Experts are investigating after dozens of dead and barely alive puffins were discovered washed up on Orkney’s coastline.
It is unknown yet why the birds, found at Scapa beach, are being found dead – but experts believe it is unlikely to be avian flu.
Surviving puffins were taken into nearby vet Flett and Carmichael to be cared for and were given rehydration fluids.
Flett and Carmichael said in a statement: “We treated multiple puffins that were handed in to us by members of the public. Sadly a couple of the puffins have died since.
“At this time of year they should be far out at sea in groups so the fact that they are being washed up on land means that things have sadly gone wrong for them, but we will try to treat them as best we can and try to return them home if they survive the next few days.
“The puffins that have been presented to us have been very weak and cold. We have had several bad storms within the last two weeks and suspect this could be a contributing factor to these weaker birds being taken off course.
“Research is being done into whether there is an unusual reason for this occurrence. We don’t have any further information as of yet.”
Susan Davies, CEO of the Scottish Seabird Centre said: “Puffins are one of our most cherished seabirds with many people visiting Scotland each year to see them.
“Sadly, this charismatic seabird is already under pressure from climate change and a recent scientific report from the British Trust for Ornithology stated that 9 out of 10 puffins could disappear over the next 30 years.
“It is therefore worrying to hear of the dead and sick birds being washed ashore along parts of the northern and eastern coastline of Scotland.”