IMCC3 Mascot: The Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic puffins on the Isle of Lunga, a Treshnish Isle in Argylle and Bute, Scotland. (Photo by Samantha Oester)

Atlantic puffins on the Isle of Lunga, a Treshnish Isle in Argylle and Bute, Scotland. (Photo by Samantha Oester)

by Samantha Oester

As a child, I was fascinated by puffins, among many other exotic seafaring animals. (Exotic, meaning, I had never seen them in the forests of West Virginia.) My kindergarten teacher read us a book on seabirds, and puffins enchanted my young heart. The Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) in the book she held up was small, fast and colorful, she explained. They could be found in several places I had never heard of, including a magical land called Scotland. (My five-year-old self may have added the magical bit. At that age, the presence of castles equaled magical.) I imagined myself sitting among these tiny birds, in a place where green and blue met.

Atlantic puffins reside in coastal colonies during breeding season, tunneling cliffside burrows of offshore islands to lay a solitary egg. It is during mating season that Atlantic puffins sport their signature brightly colored beaks. During breeding and rearing in spring and summer, they can be found in their clifftop colonies on several Scottish Isles, including East Lothian, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Fife, Shetland and Orkney. Breeding pairs typically return to the same burrow location each year. The puffin parents take turns caring for the egg and chick. Eggs hatch in about six weeks, and rearing takes about two months.

Atlantic puffin carrying food for a chick on the Isle of Lunga. (Photo by Samantha Oester)

Atlantic puffin carrying food for a chick on the Isle of Lunga. (Photo by Samantha Oester)

Atlantic puffins chiefly eat small fish and sand eels. They are also known to consume mollusks, crustaceans and marine worms. Parents can often be seen flying prey from the sea to burrows to feed their young. Atlantic puffins are preyed on by larger seabirds, such as hawks and skuas.

If enjoying puffin watching in one of their habitats, it is important to keep from approaching too closely, so as not to stress puffin parents. (They may still fly right by you, or even nestle in near your watching spot!) It is also important to not go too close to the cliff’s side, as you could cave in their burrows and hurt or even kill the puffins inside. Burrows are commonly two to three feet long (70 to 110 cm).

Bring your camera and binoculars—I could watch puffin behaviors for hours!—and you can still get great photos, even from a distance. Notice as they bill, in which mating pairs rub their bills together, to a curious crowd of fellow puffins who gather to watch the public display of affection. You could catch gaping behavior, in which they puff up and open their wings and beak to show aggression. They may also stomp their feet to show discontentment. You may also notice nosy neighbors popping in to check out different burrows.

Atlantic puffins live in the northern Atlantic Ocean, spending winters at sea. They can be found from Greenland to the coastline of Newfoundland and from Norway to Spain. Their large range has helped the species to remain abundant, although the IUCN reports the population trend appears to be decreasing. Local populations in some areas have declined due to human activity, including puffin hunting, over-fishing of their prey items, invasive predator species, oil spills and drilling operations.

IMCC3 Mascot Alan MacPuffin. IMCC3 will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, 14-18 August 2014. (Photo by Chris Parsons)

IMCC3 Mascot Alan MacPuffin. IMCC3 will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, 14-18 August 2014. (Photo by Chris Parsons)

The Atlantic puffin is the mascot for the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress. The mascot is aptly named Alan MacPuffin.

Atlantic puffins leave their colonies throughout August, so if you are extending your Scotland travel for IMCC3, you may be able to catch these captivating seabirds before they depart from the Scottish Isles for the year.


-Samantha Oester is a co-chair and the communications chair for IMCC3.

The Benefits of Attendance: IMCC3


by Edd Hind


Without the International Marine Conservation Congresses (IMCC), I very much doubt I would be where I am today, professionally. At the first IMCC in 2009, I learned from experts in my field the methodology that would become central to my doctoral research. Two and a half years ago at IMCC2 in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, I shared sustainable seafood and locally brewed beer with a group of strangers who are now trusted collaborators. It’s as a result of these experiences that I think the IMCC is one of the “must attend” marine conservation conferences. The board members of the Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) have been putting their heads together over the last week to state why they too believe that IMCC3 should be your “must attend” conference this year. Here’s what they had to say:

  • IMCC has a history of getting people with different experience levels and areas of expertise together to exchange ideas for the benefit of all involved. Alongside many interactive workshops and symposia, IMCC3 already has many student events scheduled.
  • Some of the best theories or ideas in science have come out because of a couple of strangers, or even friends, getting together over a coffee or a beer. The second IMCC had nine scheduled social events, and IMCC3 will provide similar opportunities.
  • Over five days, you will be exposed to a flood of new ideas, hypotheses, methods/techniques, analyses and findings—any scientists that say that’s not valuable might as well burn all their books, disconnect their computers from the internet, and go back to the middle ages while they’re at it!
  • The program will include workshops and courses that teach tangible skills, such as software, applications, and communication. Many marine scientists and managers have learned how to communicate with the media and use packages like Marxan at previous IMCCs. In Glasgow, there will be opportunities not only to develop your social media and GIS skills, but to apply those skills to causes you care about. You’ll have the opportunity to rescue marine mammals!
  • Conferences are perfect places to network for funding and research contacts. The previous IMCCs have attracted more than 1200 delegates per meeting. That’s a lot of opportunities to connect!
  • Remember, astronauts are the only scientists that work well in a vacuum. There will be no astronauts or vacuums at IMCC3!

IMCC3 is being held in Glasgow, Scotland, from 14-18 August 2014. More details about the meeting can be found at the conferences dedicated website.  I’m looking forward to seeing you there so we can share ideas over a wee dram of coffee or world-class whisky!


Edd Hind is a resident lecturer for the School for Field Studies. He is a member of the IMCC3 Communications Committee.

Exhibitor Focus: Environmental Artist Featured at IMCC3


Exhibitor Focus: Environmental Artist Featured at IMCC3

Seppo Leinonen is a Finnish artist interested in environmental issues. He studied fine arts and forestry in Helsinki and enjoys the outdoors. He recently participated in the 11th International Mammalogical Congress and is excited to become more involved in marine conservation at IMCC3. You can view more of Seppo’s art on his website SeppoNet and follow him on Twitter @sepponet (IMCC Cartoon by Seppo)

Glasgow: IMCC3 Host City a Must-Visit


Don’t just take our word for it…
The IMCC 2014 host city, Glasgow, has been celebrated by numerous world-leading publications, travel guides and websites as a must-visit destination in 2014. Here is a selection of what they had to say:

Rough Guides – Top 10 Cities for 2014
“In the past few decades, Scotland’s biggest city has emerged as a cultural powerhouse. The River Clyde, which once ferried tobacco traders towards the city, now flows past smoking-hot artists’ studios and museums, which have appeared in rejuvenated docks.”

Jetsetter – Where to Go in 2014
“With a string of thumping live music venues, a sartorial scene to rival London’s and a skyline shaped by starchitects, Glasgow is Scotland’s creative capital and longtime hipper sister to tourist-packed Edinburgh.”

Wanderlust – 10 Destinations for 2014
“In Glasgow, you’ll be bowled over with the amount of options on offer – seek out historic sites, visit the city’s parks and gardens, explore the impressive gastronomic scene or soak up the cultured art scene in one of the city’s many galleries.”

The Telegraph – Twenty destinations for 2014
“Expect a warm welcome from one of the world’s friendliest cities. The city is summed up by its marketing slogan ‘People Make Glasgow’.”

International Business Times – 14 Destinations For 2014
“You’d be hard-pressed to find a more exciting time to go to Glasgow than the coming year when Scotland’s largest city plays host to a preponderance of international events.

The Guardian – UK Travel Hot List & Global Holiday Hotspots
“2014 would be a good time to rediscover Scotland’s largest city as it welcomes the world during what is, perhaps, the biggest year in its history.”

Marie Claire – 8 Must-Visit Destinations That Make Us Want To Book a Holiday Today
“The Commonwealth Games hit Glasgow in July and travel insiders expect a resulting year-long buzz in this friendly city, which boasts a vibrant art, theatre and music scene.”

RyanAir’s in-flight magazine Let’s Go – Great Escapes of 2014
“Over the last decade, Glasgow has morphed into a veritable entertainment nexus. World beating athletics, concerts and comedy nights keep Scotland’s largest city rocking all year long – and 2014 is on course to be its biggest yet.”


(Photo: Samantha Oester)

International Marine Conservation Congress: Making Marine Science Matter


This video highlights clips and interviews from the 2nd International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC2), held in 2010 in Victoria, Canada. The video also previews IMCC3, to be held in August 2014. It shows the incredible importance of IMCC and marine conservation.

The video features interviews of: IMCC2 Chair Ellen Hines, Jeff Ardon of the Marine Conservation Institute, Nick Dulvy of Simon Fraser University, Philip Dearden of the University of Victoria, Nancy Knowlton of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Kerstin Forsberg of Planeta Oceano.

The International Marine Conservation Congress: Making Marine Science Matter