Feeling prematurely nostalgic about its imminent replacement by AI, I checked in with my old pal Google the Search Engine to see how it was doing. Well, it’s still chugging along, and it seems that plenty of folks are still throwing queries its way. Some folks are even asking about Maine wildlife. To save you some time, dear reader, of an even more ancient form of communication than the search engine, let me give you some answers to the (real) most common questions.
Do moose hibernate? Easy! Nope, they’re active all year long.
Do moose eat wolves? This is honestly the fourth “Do moose…” autocomplete question in the search bar. Do they eat wolves? No. No they don’t. They eat woody shoots and aquatic plants and vegetation and fruit. Not meat, and especially the meat of endangered apex predators. Wolves, though, do eat moose.
Do lobsters die of old age? Asking this question leads to a pretty heavy, intense quote from the British Natural History Museum: “Lobsters do not show typical signs of senescence. For them, life just goes on until an inevitable end. Unlike people, as they age, lobsters do not weaken, and they continue to grow, feed as normal and reproduce.” Whoa! It also leads to a headline from a website called Big Think that reads “Lobsters don’t die from old age — they die from exhaustion.” I had no idea the answer to this question was going to be so cool.
Do puffins migrate? Yeah they do! They’re seabirds, and so they spend their lives at sea. Only, no seabirds have figured out how they can lay eggs on the water and so they all need to come to land to breed. For Atlantic Puffins that means isolated, rocky, predator-free islands in the North Atlantic. So, they’re here to lay eggs and raise chicks for the summer, but head back to the open ocean in the winter. According to National Audubon’s Steve Kress, puffins start by heading north to the fish-rich Gulf of St. Lawrence, and then head to waters above submerged canyons about 200 miles off the Cape Cod coast.
Do puffins fly? Yes. I think it’s fair to say that they’re better swimmers than flyers — they use their wings to “fly” underwater and can dive to more than 200 feet — but they can fly. Take a boat trip out to Matinicus Rock or another puffin colony this summer and see them zipping low over the water like black-and-white footballs.
Do puffins have teeth? Nope. Like all birds, puffins don’t have teeth. However, they still need to hang on to all those squirmy fish they catch. Like many fish-eating birds, puffins have serrations on their bills to help keep their prey in place.
Okay! I hope that was helpful! Next time you have a Maine wildlife question don’t bother asking boring, inefficient Google and instead send a fax or handwritten letter to me c/o the Portland Phoenix.
Nick Lund of Cumberland is outreach and network manager at Maine Audubon. He has written about nature for the National Audubon Society, Down East, National Parks Magazine, The Washington Post, and others. He can be found online at TheBirdist.com and on Twitter @TheBirdist.