We were eating dinner one evening at a family restaurant located along the fisherman's wharf in St. John, New Brunswick and I noticed a poster on the wall advertising an excursion out to a tiny rock in the Bay of Fundy called Machias Seal Island. I don't recall what I may have said, but at some point during the dinner my dad got up and left the table for a little while.
The next morning, my brother and I were awakened at some ungodly hour and told to get ready, and quickly. We were heading to Grand Manan. The next thing I remember is standing on a dock shivering, waiting to board a fishing boat. Turns out, my dad had seen something in my face that prompted him to book an excursion out to the very rock that had captured my attention the previous night. I was going to get to see my beloved Atlantic Puffins up close and personal.
I recall fog so thick that the dingy being pulled behind the boat was barely visible for most of the journey. About 70 minutes into the 90 minute boat ride, we saw a shape flit from one puff of moisture to another. Then we saw another and another. Puffins! Their colorful beaks and orange feet instantly recognizable against the dark grey of the morning.
The cacophony of noise emanating from the island grew louder and louder the closer we got. The clouds lifted, the sun came out, and the ocean swells became more pronounced. Machias was directly ahead, iconic lighthouse plainly visible. Seals lounged on rocks along the shoreline. And all around us, thousands upon thousands of sea birds: Atlantic puffins, razorbills, common murres, arctic terns, leach's storm-petrels, and common eiders. 30,000 birds on an island about a kilometer long and 300 meters wide.