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Hi-def 'puffin cam' shows 'clowns of Atlantic'

A camera shows puffins in their natural habitat on a remote Maine island.
June 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A high-definition live stream of a colony of Atlantic puffins was launched Wednesday. Two cameras show the clown-like birds in their natural habitat on a remote Maine island.

The cameras were set up by the National Audubon Society and Explore.org from Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. The stream is available to anyone with an Internet connection. The refuge is located about 20 miles offshore. It has the largest puffin colony in the U.S.

The video marks the first time high-definition cameras have been used in North America to stream video of Atlantic puffins, said Steve Kress, director of Audubon's seabird restoration program.

One camera shows puffins and other seabirds on the island's rocky ledges, flapping their wings and coming and going while waves crash on shore. The other camera is underground, inside a burrow showing a puffin in her nesting site. It is so close to the bird you can look into its eye.

The goal is to engage the public and spur interest in seabird restoration, said Kress, who has worked with puffins for nearly four decades.

"About a third of all seabird species in the world are threatened with extinction," Kress said. "It's the most troubled group of birds in the world. And the puffin is the bird among seabirds that people can relate to."

The Atlantic puffin is sometimes called the "clown of the sea" with its colorful striped beak, its diminutive stature and the comical way it waddles.

The project is funded by explore.org, a philanthropic organization in Santa Monica, Calif., and a division of the Annenberg Foundation.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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