Cormorants Dive 150 ft into Ocean to Search for Food
An international team of researchers from the Wildlife Conservative society (WCS) have made a new discovery about the imperial cormorants, the large seabirds that mostly dwell along the southern coasts of South America and feed on fish found just below the surface of the ocean.
The team from WCS and National Research Council of Argentina recently fitted a tiny camera on the back of the cormorant. The amazing footage amazed the researchers as they noticed how the seabird dives nearly 46 meters (150 ft) to the ocean floor in just 40 seconds. They discovered that the birds are, in fact, remarkably accomplished predatory divers.
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WCS biologist Martin Mendez said "This is the first time we have seen them diving to the floor. It's a new behaviour - people didn't know about this before."
This is the first time that the researchers were able to view the first hand feeding technique of the fascinating predatory divers.
The camera was attached to the bird's back, in order to get the view of its head as it pumps its feet to swim deeper. They noticed that when it finally reaches the ocean floor, it explores a vast area searching for food. It eventually finds an elongated fish, which it brings to the surface to eat.
The video was shot in the protected coastal area of Punta Leon in Patagonia, Argentina - home to more than 7,000 of the birds.
A WCS scientific team, led by Dr. Flavio Quintana, has been studying the cormorants' feeding behavior for the past ten years. The team was joined by Dr. Carlos Zavalaga along with Ken Yoda from the University of Nogoya, Japan to fit the camera on the bird.
The scientists are gathering all of this data to help identify priority feeding areas, which can then be safeguarded and monitored.