Port Townsend Marine Science Center hosts talk on puffins and climate change

Leader news staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 2/18/21

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center will welcome John Piatt for his talk, “What can puffins tell us about the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems” in March.

The lecture …

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Port Townsend Marine Science Center hosts talk on puffins and climate change

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The Port Townsend Marine Science Center will welcome John Piatt for his talk, “What can puffins tell us about the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems” in March.

The lecture is part of the center’s Future of Oceans series.

“Puffins are abundant members of Pacific marine ecosystems and easily studied on their island colonies,” Piatt said. “When we see marked changes in breeding biology or diets, we can expect to find marked changes in food webs underwater.”   

“Puffins serve as marine ‘canaries in the coal mine’ by indicating when food chains are disrupted over days or decades by changing marine climate,” he added.   

Piatt became interested in seabirds in the 1970s while camping near a large puffin colony in Witless Bay, Newfoundland.

In 1977, he studied the ecological relationships between capelin, cod, seabirds and whales as a graduate student, earning his doctorate’s degree in marine biology.

Lured to Alaska to join the United States Geological Survey and study auklets in the Bering Sea, Piatt is now a seabird and forage fish ecology program leader for the agency’s Alaska Science Center. He is also an affiliate professor at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences in Seattle.

Piatt’s research has included studies on the impacts of gill-net by-catch, algal biotoxins, plastic consumption and oil pollution on seabirds.

In addition to the lecture, the  Port Townsend Marine Science Center is offering a Deep Dive Conversation with Piatt at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 15. The in-depth conversation will allow limited attendance and be held via the Zoom videoconferencing platform. The moderated virtual discussion costs $5 per person.

Since it started in 2014, the Future of Oceans lecture series has delved into the frontiers of ocean research and emerging technologies while confronting the human capacity to understand and sustain healthy oceans. Each year, attendees are challenged and informed with thought-provoking presentations. The series is made possible by support from the Darrow family.

For details on how to access Piatt’s Zoom meeting on March 14 and the Deep Dive Conversation on March 15, visit ptmsc.salsalabs.org/lecture_march_2021/index.html.

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