This island is located 3.3 Km NW of Chamisso Island, 58 mi. SW of Selawik, Kotzebue-Kobuk Low. Puffin Island is a steep rock and, though much smaller than Chamisso Island, it has many more nesting birds on its surface, especially horned puffins. Both islands are part of the Chukchi Sea unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
This island was named in 1826 by Captain Frederick William Beechey (1831, p. 255), RN. He wrote, "Detached from Chamisso there is a steep rock which by way of distinction we named Puffin Island."
Puffin Island is a Natural Reserve since December 7, 1912. The protected area includes Chamisso Island and nearby Puffin Island, as well as some rocky islets nearby.