Mainers are proud of the state’s natural beauty and its wildlife. One of the most unusual birds living along the Maine coast is the Atlantic puffin, which looks something like a small penguin with a painted face. Although puffins are common in Newfoundland and Great Britain, they only inhabit a few rocky islands in Maine. In fact, puffins nearly disappeared from Maine in the early 20th century until the state passed laws to protect it and other seabirds.
The puffin population rebounded in the last 30 years thanks to work by the Audubon Society. In a special project, the society imported some puffins from Canada and helped them establish homes in Maine. Puffins commonly return year after year to the same place they were born. For more information, watch the Audubon Society’s Project Puffin video. The birds nest on rocky, island ledges and feed on cold-water fish such as hake and herring. They spend the first few years of their lives at sea. When they’re ready, they choose a mate for life, and return to land a few months a year to raise their young – one a year.
During your stay at Newcastle Inn, you can join a puffin tour on one of the area’s cruise lines. Hardy Boat Cruises sails out of New Harbor, about 14 miles south of the inn. Boothbay Harbor is also a point of departure for puffin cruises. Cap’n Fish’s Island Lady leaves mid-morning for a two and a half-hour Puffin Cruise on a few select days in June, plus three days a week (Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays) from July through late August. Both puffin cruise lines recommend reservations. For more information about the Hardy Boat Cruise, please contact Hardy Boat Cruises at 1-800-2-PUFFINS. For information on Cap’n Fish’s tours, please call R.N. Fish and Son Inc. at 1-800-636-3244.