Puffin hunting on Westerman Island, Iceland

To: <>
Subject: Puffin hunting on Westerman Island, Iceland
From: "Val Ford" <>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 07:47:08 +1100
Hi all

Whilst reading the latest Lonely Planet newsletter I was intrigued by the
following item.  Has the capture of the young pufflings and subsequent
release been observed by anyone on the list?

'The Westman Islands is a cluster of 15 islands just off the south coast of
Iceland. The only inhabited island is Heimaey, which has a population of
around 5,000. Nature here is alive and kicking with armies of puffins,
fulmars and other sea birds that use the sheer basalt cliffs and deep sea as
their bases.

'The islanders have a few weird and wonderful traditions that are
interesting to participate in. Cliff-hanging is a traditional sport that
involves climbing and descending the island's steep cliffs and rocks using
ropes. The sport is still practised today, both as a form of enjoyment and
as a puffin hunting technique. So don't be surprised when you see people
dangling from cliff edges. Why not take a deep breath and join them? You
will never forget the feeling!

'You might also see children throwing birds out to sea, but don't hurry to
judge them as cruel. Every August, the children of the Westman Islands help
the young pufflings, flying from their nests for the first time, to find
their way out to sea. The pufflings get confused by the bright lights of the
city and hundreds fly towards them. The children offer the youngsters 'bed &
breakfast' - a safe home for the night in a cardboard box and some food in
the morning. The next day they compete with each other to see which puffling
will fly the farthest out to sea. The winner, given the title 'King of
Puffins', is praised till the following August.'

Val Ford
Sorrento, Vic

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