The birds have been in precipitous decline, especially since the 2000s, both in Iceland and across many of their Atlantic habitats. The potential culprits are many: fickle prey, overfishing, pollution. Scientists say that climate change is another underlying factor that is diminishing food supplies and is likely to become more important over time. And the fact that puffins are tasty, and thus hunted as game here, hardly helps.
Though some puffin colonies are prospering, in Iceland, where the largest population of Atlantic puffins is found, their numbers have dropped from roughly 7 million individuals to about 5.4 million. Since 2015, the birds have been listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, meaning they face a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Hunters with long nets can be seen tooling around Grimsey Island in the summer, leaving behind piles of bird carcasses, the breast meat stripped away. Iceland has restricted the annual harvest, but hunting "is accelerating the decline," said Erpur Snaer Hansen, acting director of the South Iceland Nature Research Center.
Around Iceland, the puffins have suffered because of the decline of their favorite food, silvery sand eels, which dangle from the parents' beaks as they bring them to their young. That collapse correlates to a rise in sea surface temperatures that Hansen has been monitoring for years.
Without as many sand eels in the water, the birds have to fly farther to find food for themselves and their chicks. Hansen's twice-yearly census of 700 puffin burrows in 12 colonies around Iceland show that 40 percent of the population of Icelandic puffin chicks is losing body mass over time, another bad sign.
When the adults can't catch enough to feed themselves and the chicks, they make an instinctive Malthusian choice; the chicks starve. There are still millions of Atlantic puffins, but their plentiful colonies are deceiving, Hansen said.
"These birds are long lived, so you don't just see them plummeting down," he said. In the long run, he warned, "It's not sustainable."
'Beach With No Water' Draws Sneers in Rome 市長設「無水海灘」 羅馬人罵翻
The riverfront beach was supposed to be a summertime gift from the beleaguered mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, to her citizens. Called "Tiberis," an ancient name for Rome's main waterway, the municipal beach had been promoted as Rome's answer to Seine-side installations in Paris.
But when it finally opened this month, after doubts about whether it would open at all given that the season was nearly over, the area — a cluster of beach chairs and sun umbrellas, two beach volleyball courts and vending machines — was dismissed by some Romans (who perhaps hadn't even visited the beach) as too little, too late.
Rather than a symbol of the progressive governance of Raggi's party, the Five Star Movement, Tiberis has become yet another lightning rod for Romans to vent their dissatisfaction with the mayor, who is entering the third tempestuous year of a five-year term.
Taking to social media, some cracked jokes that the basic beach, in a populous Rome suburb, was best suited for the Tiber's most assiduous habitués: its rats. Others complained that unlike in other European capitals like Berlin and Copenhagen, whose urban lidos include pools or other areas suitable for swimming, sweaty sunbathers at Tiberis could opt only for showers in plastic cubicles.
"A lot of untreated sewage is still dumped into the Tiber, so it is very polluted," said Giorgio Zampetti, the director general of the Italian environmental association Legambiente. "It's a shame, and an issue we've raised often." But cleaning up the river would be an immense and expensive undertaking for the city.
"A beach with no water is kind of ridiculous," said Tom Rankin, the former director of Tevereterno, a nonprofit that promotes artistic projects for the Tiber, including a 2016 mural along an embankment by South African artist William Kentridge. Although Rankin praised the effort of getting citizens to the Tiber's edge, he said City Hall could have given "more thought to the initiative to come up with something better."
Other Romans said that the city had missed an important opportunity to re-establish a substantial connection to the Tiber, once central to the Italian capital's identity but today mostly neglected and overlooked.
"The operation was badly done," said Giuseppe Maria Amendola, the president of the Consorzio Tiberina, an association that aims to promote the Tiber. As designed, the spartan beach could have been plunked down anywhere, even in a parking lot, because "it gives nothing to the Tiber," he said.
文中首段單字beleaguer指的是「圍攻、包圍」之意，同義詞有besiege、beset及bedevil等字，還有不斷遭到騷擾、困擾的意思，例如The president has been beleaguered by fake news.（總統一直受到假新聞困擾。），而首段另一單字municipal則代表「市的、市政的」意思，為英文新聞中常出現單字，跟 civic、city、urban等字同義。