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May 22, 2015

How many fish can a puffin catch at one time?

Photo above by Megan Lorenz                                                              Photo below - Wavehunters Marine
Here's a question with an answer that surprised me.   The Canadian Wildlife Federation is currently asking online whether a puffin can catch 12, 34, or 61 fish in its extravagant bill at one time.   My guess was 12.   It seems all the pictures of
puffins with fish in their mouths that I recall show no more than 12 and often less than 12.   It's a bit of a trick question however.   April Overall writes in Discover Wildlife that the correct answer to this question is 61.   The record observed number of fish held, at one time, by a Puffin in Canada is 61.   The number is so high because of the size of the individual fish.   The smaller the fish, the more that can be captured. How can a puffin catch 61 capelin or sandlance fish at one time?   The answer is in the puffin's mouth where a series of backward-pointing spines project from the tongue and top of mouth.   The spines hold the food in place while the Puffin is busy catching more.   Are not nature's adaptations amazing?
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