More than 5,500 people embark on puffin watching cruises with Audubon naturalists each summer. Two companies offer this unique opportunity to view the thriving colony at Eastern Egg Rock, Muscongus Bay, Maine.
Hardy Boat Cruises, based in New Harbor on Maine's Pemaquid Peninsula, runs a puffin cruise seven evenings a week between mid-June and late August. The hour and a half tour departs New Harbor for Eastern Egg Rock, where the boat slowly circles the island for 30 minutes. The trip is narrated by Project Puffin staff and education interns.
In addition to Puffins, passengers on both cruises have the opportunity to view Maine's largest colony of endangered Roseate Terns, 160 of which nest among more than 3000 Arctic and Common Terns. Black Guillemots, Common Eiders, Laughing Gulls and other seabirds are easily viewed. Harbor Seals, Minke whales, Northern Gannets and Storm Petrels are also seen on some trips.
Boothbay Harbor is also a point of departure for puffin cruises. CAP'N FISH's Island Lady leaves mid-morning for a two and a half-hour tour four days a week in July til late August. The tour features Boothbay Harbor sights, including several lighthouses, before heading to Egg Rock for a thirty-minute tour around the puffin colony.
Puffin watching tours typically sail rain or shine, so it is important to bring appropriate attire including a sweater or windbreaker and sunscreen.
Both cruise lines recommend reservations. For more information contact Hardy Boat Cruises at 800-2-PUFFINS. Information on CAP'N FISH'S tours is available by calling R.N. Fish and Son Inc. at 800-636-3244.
Please be aware that because Eastern Egg Rock is a sensitive breeding area for puffins and other seabirds, landing on the island is not possible. Instead, tour boats circle the island closely to provide for excellent views of the island's seabirds.