Atlantic Puffins - Machias Seal Island

July 11, 2012  •  4 Comments

After several successful photo mission this spring, I was looking forward to June and the start of summer in Maine.  But the month got off to a rough start.

Our dog Skye was losing her battle with Lymphoma and it was time to let her go.  It was very hard for us to say "goodbye" to our faithful companion.  But even though she is gone her loyalty, great disposition, and those sky blue eyes of hers will never be forgotten.

As the month progressed I was beginning to look forward to the start of my next vacation.  For my first day of vacation I had scheduled to go on a puffin trip.  But just prior to my trip, Mother Nature decided to give us what seemed like an endless amount of rainy days.  June 28th at 8:00 am was when I was scheduled to make the sea bound journey to Machias Seal Island from Cutler, Maine.  The forecast was calling for rain through the 27th and possibly into the morning of the 28th.  It was not looking good.  But as luck would have it, the morning of the 28th the weather cleared and my puffin trip was still a go!

Cutler Harbor, MaineCutler Harbor

I met up with my friend/fellow photographer Ed at Cutler Harbor where we boarded the Barbara Frost with Andrew Patterson as our Captain (Bold Coast Charter Co.).  As we headed out of the harbor we cruised by the Little River Lighthouse and an eagle flew by!  The weather was gorgeous and it seemed like we were off to a good start.

Little River Lighthouse, Cutler Harbor, MaineLittle River Light

Bold Coast Charter Co. is one of the few companies that have a special landing permit to allow people to go on the island to photograph/observe the puffins from blinds.  The weather and sea conditions have to be just right for this to happen.  Captain Andrew had explained that even though it looked nice and calm in closer to the harbor, the further out to sea we went the rougher it was going to get.  But he would evaluate the conditions once we reached the island and go from there.

As we reached Machias Seal Island our hopes of landing were diminished.  The rolling seas were making for unsafe landing conditions.  But Captain Andrew made every effort to provide us with the best opportunity to photograph and see all the sea birds that were around.  With the boat anchored and continually moving up and down, I turned my attention to the fast flying puffins coming by with fish in their bills for their little ones.  It was very challenging to photograph them as they flew by with their catch.

Atlantic Puffin in flight with fishPuffin in flight with fish

Captain Andrew was able to shuttle small groups at a time around the island so we could get a closer look at the puffins.

Atlantic Puffin, Machias Seal IslandPuffin

After several hours of watching the puffins and other sea birds it was time to leave but others had asked where all the seals were since the island is called "Machias Seal Island".  He explained that they all hang out on an island just off to the side.  As he pointed the island out to us and we could see several seals basking in the sun.  Before we headed back to the mainland he took us around to the side of the island so we could see the seals.  It was amazing to see so many seals at once.  There were grey seals and harbor seals.  I had never seen a grey seal before so it was very exciting to get to see one in real life for the first time.

grey seal Machias Seal IslandGrey Seal

After watching the seals for a bit it was time to head back to Cutler Harbor.  It was a successful day despite not being able to go on the island and my photo mission was complete.  To see more of my photos from my puffin trip please check out my coastal, lighthouses, wildlife - birds-misc, and wildlife - misc galleries.




Michele Barker Photography
Thank you Al! Puffin trips are definitely a fun experience and one that I will probably do several more times to come.
Albert LeCourt(non-registered)
This is a wonderful capture of the inflight Puffin with fish. I hope to do such a trip as you and Ed.

Now, I have a reason to do so.
Michele Barker Photography
Thanks Ed for your great comments. I really appreciate the feedback. I am glad that I got to share your very first puffin adventure.
Ed Robichaud(non-registered)
What a day it turned out to be despite an un-succesful landing on the island !!!
There was no lack of being close to those Beautiful sea parrots !!!

It was most challenging trying to capture a fligbt shot of the puffins !! ,...there were so many to just concentrate on just one !!!

Once again Michele you have painted a beautiful picture of the essence of being there among the crtters in their element w/your well written blog and the wondeful captered photos of our wild friends !!!
I had a great experiance w/ the puffins & agreat photographer/friend to share the fun !!!

Great work on the blog & w/ the terrific pic's !!! ,...Happy shooting,..Ed.
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