CONSERVATION, MARINE, SEACLIFFS, WILD SWIMS, WILDLIFE

Lundy’s Puffins – a conservation success story!

As a kid I was obsessed with puffins. I grew up on the North Devon coast, with views across the bay to their home on Lundy Island, so these clown faced-penguins were a bit of a legend to me. Then one day when I was about 8 years old, I got the chance to visit the island, and loved every second. Though there was one problem… where were all the puffins?

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Sadly in 2002, the Lundy puffin population had reached an all time low – with just 2 or 3 breeding pairs remaining, and it was all down to the invasive rats. Luckily a Seabird Recovery Project was soon set up to eradicate the rats and it turned out to be a complete success! – and for other seabirds too, including an incredible repopulation by manx shearwaters! So around 15 years later I finally boarded the MS Oldenburg once again, sailing the 12 miles from Bideford Quay, to revisit this 400 foot granite outcrop in the Bristol channel.

At just 3 miles long and half a mile wide, this wind-beaten and barren landscape has so much more than just seabirds too! The island is home to an incredible variety of hardy livestock and wildlife, including 3 endemic species (meaning only found there in the entire world!). Also, interestingly around 20% of the island’s rabbit population are melanistic (the opposite of albinism), compared to the 4% national average.

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On a calm day, be sure to bring your swimmers for a dip in the sea, you might even be joined by UK’s largest mammal – the Atlantic Grey seal. These agile beats are 2-3 metres in length and can weight up to 350kg!! This makes them three times the size of a Common Harbour seal, and have been known to quite literally ‘have them for breakfast’! Can you spot the two in the photo?

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I cannot recommend a trip to this wonderful place enough. I definitely won’t be leaving it so long this time!

 

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