Machias Seal Island

About ten miles offshore of Cutler, Maine—one of the northernmost towns in the state—lies Machias Seal Island. While its sovereignty remains in dispute between the United States and Canada, what no one can deny is its importance to the birds that call it home. Each summer, thousands of seabirds descend onto its rocky shores, and for a few brief months, they spend their days fishing and tending to their young.

On July 10, 2022, my family and I visited the island. En route, we saw petrels, gannets, gulls, guillemots, and even a lone eagle. Filing onto the island, we held sticks aloft to fend off swooping territorial terns. Then, from cramped blinds, we witnessed the birds—puffins, razorbills, and murres—in their natural environment. I hope these photos give you a sense of the island's magic.