In 2019, four dynamic seabird biologists came together at the Hog Island Audubon Camp to offer a new program called “Puffin Islands.” These scientists shared their personal experiences and discoveries made while studying seabirds. The course is about much more than puffins! The instructors shared inspiring presentations about seabird family life, migration, adaptations for life at sea, and the challenges that seabirds face in a world where even the most remote islands are affected by humans.
These presentations, filmed on Hog Island, are now available via a new Audubon online course: “Puffin Islands Online EXPANDED” The self-paced course is ideal for teens and adults who care about ocean life and want to know more about how seabirds migrate and survive in the ocean’s vast expanses.
Project Puffin shared the first release of the course in October with seven presentations. Now, the full course of 15 presentations is available as “Puffin Islands Online EXPANDED.’ In addition to the presentations, each lecture has a reading list and there are two quizzes that participants can use to check their knowledge of the content. A certificate is available at completion.
Sign up now to discover the amazing lives of seabirds.
Seabird Families of the World- Dr. Steve Kress. New discoveries about seabird genetics have revealed revelations about the 14 seabird families. Learn which seabirds are most ancient and which are more recent while discovering surprising behaviors of each family. (25 minutes)
Seabird Senses – Dr. Don Lyons. Seabirds have a remarkable sense of sight, smell, and memory. Project Puffin’s science director shares how these senses help seabirds navigate the oceans, and find food, mates, and nesting places. (37 minutes)
Seabird Adaptations for Life at Sea – Dr. Annette Fayet. Learn about seabirds’ amazing abilities, including waterproofing behavior, separating salt from water, and locating and catching food. (21 minutes)
Seabird Family Life – Dr. Annette Fayet. This compelling presentation explains how seabirds choose mates, and how clutch size, incubation, chick rearing, and foraging habits affect nesting success. (22 minutes)
Seabird Migration – Dr. Annette Fayet. Puffins have short wings and one would think they would not fly far when they migrate. But seabirds are always surprising! Join Dr. Fayet as she shares her discoveries about the mysteries of puffin migration. (24 minutes)
Terns- Masters of Migration – Dr. Don Lyons. An unabashed admirer of terns, Dr. Lyons shows how one tern species is adapting to an increasingly human-dominated Pacific coast. His groundbreaking research using satellite tracking shows that seemingly isolated colonies are connected through frequent explorations that help terns choose their future nesting and feeding areas. (29 minutes)
Threats to Seabirds
Invasive Mammals, Plastics, and Entanglement- Dr. Annette Fayet. Invasive mammals threaten 70% of seabird species and plastics and entanglement in fishing gear kill seabirds in even the most remote parts of the world’s oceans. But there is hope! Learn about heroic efforts to remove predators, innovative solutions to halt entanglement, and what you can do to reduce plastic waste reaching the sea. (28 minutes)
How Ocean Climate Affects Seabirds – Dr. John Piatt. This presentation explains how historic changes in climate led to evolution of alcid (auks) diversity in the North Pacific. Yet human-caused rapid climate change is adding new stress to seabirds and the food chains that support them. (22 minutes)
Mystery of the Missing Murres – Dr. John Piatt. Like a detective setting out to discover ‘who did it’ in a murder drama, Dr. Piatt discovers the cause behind the death of a million murres. Hint: It was not the Fukushima partial nuclear meltdown or the associated tsunami. Discover who is responsible for this disaster and what murres are telling us about changes in their marine habitats. (47 minutes)
Oil Spills and Fisheries - Dr. John Piatt. Dr. Piatt had just arrived in Alaska to work with seabirds when the Exxon Valdez ran aground on March 24, 1989. In this presentation, he shares his personal experience with this great tragedy and how oil spills, fisheries and climate change are interacting to challenge the survival of seabirds and marine mammals. (29 minutes)
Tufted Puffin Feeding Ecology – Dr. John Piatt. Enjoy this virtual tour of the rarely visited and spectacular seabird nesting colonies of Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Learn why Tufted Puffins are facing new conservation challenges and how studies of their foods indicate major changes in the North Pacific food web. (35 minutes)
Project Puffin – Dr. Steve Kress. Project Puffin’s founder recounts how he conceived the plan to bring puffins back to Egg Rock in 1973. Looking forward, he shares some of the project’s challenges and opportunities to help seabirds. (20 minutes)
Saving Seabirds: Lessons Learned from Puffins and Terns – Dr. Steve Kress. Restoration methods developed for puffins have inspired a worldwide movement to restore rare and endangered seabirds. Learn how Maine seabirds are also offering new insights into climate change and fisheries management. (24 minutes)
Decoys for Seabird Restoration – Eric Snyder. Project Puffin pioneered the use of decoys for seabird restoration at Maine islands. Now ‘Social Attraction’ is used in at least 25 other countries to help seabirds. Join Eric Snyder for a personal tour inside the decoy factory at Audubon’s Seabird Institute in Maine to see how creative biologists are making decoys for export worldwide. (20 minutes)
Saving Chinese Crested and Aleutian Terns – Dr. Don Lyons. Dr. Lyons brings the tool of satellite tracking to China and Alaska to help discover the winter home of two of the world’s rarest terns - the Chinese Crested and Aleutian Terns. Surprisingly, both species may winter in Indonesia where there is rising interest in seabird conservation due in part to his groundbreaking research. (40 minutes)
Meet the Instructors:
Annette Fayet, Ph.D.
Annette Fayet is a junior research fellow at the University of Oxford (UK), and a National Geographic Explorer. She grew up in France where she studied engineering, before moving to England where she received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in biology at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on the ecology of seabirds and their migratory behavior, using miniature tracking devices. She works on UK breeding seabirds (particularly Atlantic Puffins), as well as other species in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Dr. Fayet looks for conservation implications in her research and collaborates with other researchers to help inform conservation decisions such as the location of marine protected areas.
Steve Kress, Ph.D.
Steve Kress is the founder of National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin. He previously served as vice-president for bird conservation at the National Audubon Society and director of the Hog Island Audubon Camp. His career has focused on developing techniques for managing colonial nesting seabirds. Hundreds of professional seabird biologists can trace their first interest in seabirds to internships with Project Puffin and many innovative seabird conservation methods that he developed in Maine are now standard practice worldwide. Dr. Kress received his Ph.D. from Cornell University and his Master’s and undergraduate degrees from Ohio State University. He has authored numerous books on bird watching and gardening for birds, as well as science papers about seabirds. He is co-author with Derrick Z. Jackson of ‘Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock’ (Yale University Press, 2015) and ‘The Puffin Plan’ for younger readers (Tumblehome Books 2020).
Don Lyons, Ph.D.
Don Lyons is director of conservation science for National Audubon's Seabird Institute. He has participated in seabird science and conservation for 20 years as a graduate student, post-doc, and assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. His interests include restoring seabird colonies using social attraction and understanding the relationship between seabirds and forage fish. His background as an electrical engineer and seabird biologist informs his research on tracking seabird foraging, dispersal, and migration, and assessing the impact of climate change on seabird breeding success and population resiliency. He has investigated the steep decline of Aleutian Terns in Alaska, assisted the program to restore the critically endangered Chinese Crested Tern in Asia, and resolve conflicts stemming from Caspian Terns’ consumption of threatened salmon in the Pacific Northwest.
Dr. Lyons currently gives presentations throughout the summer season at the Hog Island Audubon Camp, instructors at the Saving Seabirds session and directs the Puffins Islands session.
John Piatt, Ph.D.
John Piatt got hooked on seabirds in the 1970s while camping near a large puffin colony in Witless Bay, Newfoundland. Following stints as a naturalist at Cape St. Mary’s gannet colony, and surveying birds and whales off the coasts of Labrador and Baffin Island, he returned to Newfoundland to study the ecological relationships between capelin, cod, seabirds, and whales for his Ph.D. at Newfoundland’s Memorial University. Lured to Alaska in 1987 to study auklets in the Bering Sea, Dr. Piatt is now a senior research scientist at the USGS Alaska Science Center, and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington. His conservation-oriented research has included studies on the impacts of gill-net bycatch, algal biotoxins, plastic consumption, and oil pollution on seabirds. His research focuses on the overarching role of ocean climate in regulating the abundance and quality of the forage fish that support seabird populations.
PUFFIN ISLANDS ONLINE includes:
- 15 presentations available immediately after registration with a special password and weblink.
- 2 new seabird quizzes
- Recommended books and supplemental readings.
- Bonus material including extra videos, Zoom backgrounds and more!
- Certificate of completion.
- $190 cost includes unlimited access to all presentations with NO expiration date. Group logins can also be purchased.
**Sales tax applies to ME, NY, and CA.
What students have to say about our online programs:
“Thoroughly enjoyed it!”
“Language that an average person can understand and appreciate.”
“Easy to understand- every word fit the whole presentation”
“10 out of 10!! Congratulations for an excellent course”
Questions: For questions regarding payment and registration, contact the Project Puffin Visitor Center and online store manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-596-5566.
Proceeds from your registration benefit the Audubon Seabird Institute’s conservation programs.
Videos by Hudson Media Empire
©2020 National Audubon Society
Frequently Asked Questions: Online Programs
Frequently Asked Questions: Online Programs
Answers to common questions about our online programs.