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Puffins

Did you know?

Fratercula cirrhata/corniculata

We have two kinds of puffins! Tufted puffins have the classic tuft of hair on the back of their heads, while you can spot the curvy black “horn” of feathers over a horned puffin’s eyes during summer. You can also find murres – another kind of seabird.

Discover Seabirds

Habitat
Wild and Zoo
Horned puffins live in coastal Japan, Russia, British Columbia and Alaska. Tufted puffins live from Alaska to California and northern Asia; murres on the Pacific and Atlantic. Find them all at Rocky Shores.
Rocky Shores

Meet our seabirds

Horned puffin
Tufted puffin
Common murre
Eating
(and predators!)
Puffins dive to find saltwater fish, squid and crustaceans, holding their breath for up to two minutes and carrying around 10 fish in their beak at a time.
They use their raspy tongue to hold the fish against a spiny palate. Puffins are hunted by sharks, Arctic foxes and large birds.
Just one egg
(but two doting parents)
Tufted puffins nest in burrows, horned puffins in rocky crevices. Females lay one egg per year, which both parents take turns incubating.
After the chick has hatched it stays in the nest while mom and dad take turns bringing food.
Drinking sea water
and wrestling intruders.
With waterproof feathers and the ability to drink sea water, puffins can live on the open ocean for long periods. They gather in big colonies to breed.
They defend their nests by spreading their wings, stomping their feet and sometimes wrestling the intruder.

Protecting seabirds

Don't take my dinner.

THE THREAT: Puffins are not a threatened species, but some are declining as they face threats of oil spills, ocean pollution and overfishing of the small fish that make up their diet.

TAKE ACTION: Protect all sea animals by speaking out against off-shore oil drilling, choosing sustainable seafood and reducing the amount of plastic you use.

Marine Stories

One, two, 200! The 2019 Sea Otter Count

On a fine day this summer, Stephanie Rager, staff biologist at the Zoo’s Rocky Shores habitat, went for a hike. After three miles and a lot of uphill walking at the remote edge of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, she arrived with two other women at the rocky outcrop of Sand Point. There they set up a … Continued

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Walrus Training

Cindy Roberts and Sheriden Ploof stood in long rubber boots on the edge of the walrus pool, metal bucket in hand. For the two Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium staff biologists, it was a bittersweet moment. Basilla and Kulusiq, the zoo’s two female walruses, were leaving for a new home in sunny San Diego – … Continued

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Walrus Farewell

Kulu loves playing with a hose waterfall. Basa gives a deep sigh if she’s not in the mood for something. Cumulatively, they’ve lived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium for 16 years. Our lady walruses Kulusiq and Basilla are leaving for SeaWorld San Diego, and we’re giving them two weekends of farewell: Oct. 5-6 and … Continued

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Who's nearby?
Love our puffins? Then find our penguins! They live in a completely different part of the world – and a different part of the Zoo, over by Budgies and Camels.