By Bryce Benson, a fourth-grader in San Diego who likes travel, coding and performing on stage
On our first full day in Iceland, it was my mom’s special day–her birthday! To celebrate, we went on a wonderful puffin island tour, which left from the Old Harbor in Reykjavik. Check out Mr. Puffin here.
The puffin tour was puff-riffic! We went onto a dock while we waited for the tour to start. In the cold water below, we saw jelly fish of all shapes and sizes.
When the tour finally started, we hopped on the boat (not literally) and put on a tight life vest. To me it was cozy. I climbed to the top of the boat and waited for the tour to start. We had an overhead view and no roof. It was extremely cold for us, but for Icelanders, it was a warm day. Little did we know it would be the coldest day of our stay.
We all had to snuggle together on the boat to keep warm. When we got as close as possible to the island without scaring the puffins away or endangering them, I could see why they call it puffin island. There were puffins EVERYWHERE! It was the right time for puffins to mate and lay eggs, and puffin island is a really great place to do it. There is only one natural predator on the island, and that is the seagull.
You could see the puffins dive into the water and come back with a mountain of small, delicious (to a puffin), yummy fish OR a nice, chewy bundle of baby eels. There weren’t just puffins, though! There were also the bullies of the sea, the seagulls. (Luckily, there weren’t also the bullies of the bay, the baygulls). The nasty old seagulls would try to attack the puffins and steal their food (just like the cartoons)!
Fun fact: did you know the male goes to the island early to dig the burrow? Now things are going to get awkward. If the female is late, then the male finds a new girlfriend because what if the female is dead?! But if she shows up late, the male abandons the new girlfriend and goes back to his old mate.
During the tour, we had an amazing guide who was a marine biologist. The tour was 90 minutes long, but to me, it felt like it was a lot shorter. (I was having too much fun). When we had to go back (sadly) to land, everyone was hungry. We asked someone what restaurant they recommended. They said, ”All of them! Because if it wasn’t good, it wouldn’t be able to stay in business.” We finally decided to go to a place called Kopar. I had a nice, warm shrimp soup.
WARNING! MANY RESTAURANTS SERVE PUFFIN IN ICELAND.
Puffin is like an unusual chicken in America, and is sometimes on the menu at restaurants. I did NOT try puffin because they are cute and because I’m a picky eater. Luckily, the puffins will leave the island, which is their breeding ground, at the end of August to return to sea. Almost 60 percent of all Atlantic puffins breed on land on islands around Iceland, and everyone gets very excited when they return each year.
Fun Facts About Puffins
- Some nicknames for the puffin are “Clown of the Sea” (where’s its circus?) and “Sea Parrot.”
- Baby puffins eat fish and small eels.
- A puffin can hold up to 62 fish in its mouth at one time.
- Puffins live up to 20+ years.
- The oldest a puffin is known to live is 36 years. (Hey, that’s older than me!).
About the Author
Bryce Benson is a very tall nine-year-old (who has almost outgrown his mom) who lives in San Diego, California. He is silly, happy, respectful and highly imaginative, whether at home or traveling around the world or writing blogs on an airplane. He is entering the fourth grade and enjoys writing, playing the piano. coding, playing Minecraft and performing on stage.