Atlantic puffin is a weird looking but beautiful bird and has been quite the symbol for Iceland throughout. But probably not much longer. PIC Pétur Gauti Valgeirsson

Atlantic puffin is a weird looking but beautiful bird and has been quite the symbol for Iceland throughout. But probably not for much longer. PIC Pétur Gauti Valgeirsson

Bird enthusiasts could make a worse decision than to visit the Atlantic island of Iceland. Usually jam-packed with hundreds of different species and often quite easy to get close to whole flocks calling this home. But dark clouds are gathering here too.

Seabirds the world over have been in decline for quite some time. This has happened slowly and gradually and few have taken notice. Fewer still voiced concerns or downright fear. The reasons not entirely known but some of the blame for dwindling flocks must lie with over-fishing, warming oceans and human pollution.[blockquote type=”blockquote_line” align=”right”]the real thing might soon be gone for good[/blockquote]

The problem is very serious indeed. So serious that sightings of the puffin in and around the Westman islands, traditionally home to tens of thousands and a huge symbol for the islands, are few and far between. Same goes for other sites in Iceland known for large puffin populations.

Thus, in spite of the guidebooks recommending this and that place for a sighting the best chances this summer was actually in the mushrooming souvenir shops in Reykjavik where Chinese-made puffin stuff is all the rage. But the real thing might soon be gone for good.

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