Do you like Puffins? If so, you’re going to love staying with us. Whale House Guest House is in the middle of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, home of the largest colony of Atlantic Puffins in North America. With over 270,000 mating pairs nesting offshore all summer long, staying here is like living in an episode of National Geographic. Whale House Guest House actually overlooks the four small islands that make up the ecological reserve: Pee Pee Island, Gull Island, Green Island and Great Island.
Want to see a puffin up close? Would you like to hold one? Getting up close and personal with Puffins is a rare and exclusive experience. If you’re lucky enough to do so, it will be something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Access to the puffin colony and marine protected zone is by boat, with three daily departures from the wharf at the end of our lane (it’s literally a 3 min walk from Whale House Guest House to the Molly Bawn Boat Tour wharf). But did you know you can also see Puffins on-shore and be involved in rescuing them?
Fun facts about the Atlantic Puffin.
Did You Know?
- Scientists don’t call them Puffins, they call them “Fratercuka Arctica“
- Puffin couples only produce one egg every year, and both parents take turns caring for it
- Atlantic Puffins eat small fish and can dive up to 70m underwater to catch them.
- The Puffin colony just off the coast of Whale House Guest House isn’t just a big colony, it the largest Puffin colony in North America, with over half a million puffins visiting every summer
- Baby Puffins usually hatch in July and start to leave the safety of their nests in early August. This is the start of what we call “fledging” which is the time between when the baby Puffin leaves the nest and when it begins to fly.
- Puffins spend all winter living on the open ocean. They only come to our islands in the summer to have babies.
- Adult Puffins are the ones with multi-colored beaks. Baby puffins, however, have a black beak
Most baby puffins that get stranded on land near streetlights and homes never find their way back to the ocean without the help of the Witless Bay Puffin Patrol. Even with Puffin Patrol volunteers working nightly, hundreds of baby puffins die every summer, and as human populations continue to grow in the area, puffin mortality continues to increase yearly.
During the fledging season, community volunteers and visitors from all over the world participate in the puffin rescue program. Once a puffin is found, they’re kept overnight in a cage, and released back to the ocean in the morning (it’s easier for them to find their way back to their islands in the daytime).
Normally interacting with wildlife is prohibited, which makes this Canadian Wildlife Service program initiative a rare and unique opportunity to hold a baby puffin and help support the puffin population of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve we all came here to enjoy.
Getting involved with the Puffin Patrol is also a great way to meet locals and see places off the regular tourist path you would most likely otherwise miss.
So if you find yourself visiting Whale House during the fledging season between August and October and would like to go out on the Puffin Patrol, just let us know. We’ll happily point you in the right direction.
Joining the Puffin Patrol is free, and saving a baby puffin always feels good.