Puffin populations on Skomer and Skokholm islands show an increasing trend that has been recorded fairly continuously over recent decades.
Puffins have been included in this latest IUCN red list because of their recent very poor trends in the north of Britain, and elsewhere in northern Europe.
They have had some catastrophic breeding seasons in these areas and have seen significant population declines. This is thought to be linked to climate change reducing the availability of their preferred food source (sand eels) and fishing practices.
So far this effect has not been manifest on WTSWW’s Skomer and Skokholm Islands, and Skomer remains the best place to see puffins in southern Britain. We can be confident that we are not yet seeing any declines because of the intensive monitoring of the total numbers and breeding success that our wardens undertake on both islands every summer.
Puffin populations on The Wildlife Trust’s Skomer and Skokholm islands are actually continuing to show an increasing trend that has been recorded fairly continuously over recent decades. The only impact we have seen locally that may be attributable to climate change is the effect of heavy storm events causing increased mortality; events such as these may increasing in frequency.
Our puffin monitoring in 2015 gave a peak count on Skokholm of 6665 individuals (5070 in 2014) and 21,349 individuals on Skomer (18,237 in 2014).
The threat faced by puffins globally means that we need to be extremely vigilant and work hard to address the large scale threats posed by both climate change and fishery management, and at an international scale. We also need to be aware that funding for seabird monitoring is currently highly threatened.
The importance of the Skomer and Skokholm puffin populations, and the Wildlife Trust’s ability to be able to continue our detailed monitoring, and maintain long term datasets, cannot be over-stated if we are to address the threats currently facing the species.
Dr Lizzie Wilberforce, Conservation Manager.
Skomer island will open to visitors from Friday 25th March 2016. Members of WTSWW receive free landing and priority booking on overnight stays to Skomer and Skokholm.