Tufted Puffins in spotlight at OPAS meeting

SEQUIM — John Platt and Ajay Varma will present “The Private Aleutian World of Tufted Puffins” at the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The program at the Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road, will be free and open to the public.

Among the isolated volcanic chain, tufted puffins gather in huge colonies, some numbering hundreds of thousands of birds. In 2012, Platt traveled to the Aleutians with Varma, a commercial photographer from Washington state.

Their presentation combines Platt’s knowledge of seabirds with Varma’s photographs, showing the private lives of puffins along with spectacular landscapes of a world where few of us will ever visit.

Platt, an international expert on puffins, spent nearly 40 years studying these iconic seabirds in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

His work at the Aleutians focused on the food of puffins, using them as indicators of ocean health.

He particularly ponders the question: How have human activities impacted Pacific puffin populations?

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