A wayward puffin that had been found on the streets of Montreal and made national headlines when a rescue operation flew it to Newfoundland was released into the ocean east of St. John's Friday.
“The puffin was released at approximately 9:00 a.m. NT and appeared in good health. Other puffins were spotted in the area when he was released," said Kerry Evely, captain of the Leonard J. Cowley.
Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield also commented on the bird's release.
“It’s a long journey from the streets of Montreal to the Gulf Stream of the Grand Banks where puffins call home at this time of year” said Ashfield.
"The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Leonard J. Cowley was headed for its routine patrol in the NAFO Regulatory Area and we were glad we were able to place the puffin back on course.”
Stan Tobin, who has been nursing the immature puffin back to health at a wildlife response centre at Ship Cove, near Newfoundland's Placentia Bay, said the seabird was strong enough to be released on the southern Grand Banks.
The area is home to the largest puffin colony in North America, and is warmed by the Gulf Stream. Tobin determined that the frigid inshore waters in Placentia Bay were too cold for the bird, which is now substantially larger than just two weeks ago.
"I did get a bit attached to him," Tobin told CBC News.
"I'm not sorry to see the last of him, for his own sake. He did get a bit attached to me, too."
A passerby found the puffin on a Montreal street in December. Tobin suspects the bird crashed into an oceangoing ship that carried him to port in Quebec.