The Imperial cormorant is a medium-sized sea bird living in southern Argentina. About 3,500 breeding pairs of the birds live in Punta Leon, a coastal protected area. Here, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have captured a video of these birds diving in the ocean, searching for food. The video was made with the help of a tiny camera strapped to the bird’s back.
The entire dive lasts about two and a half minutes, smashing previous estimates about how long these birds can hold their breath (researchers thought they topped out at 70 seconds). In the video you can see the bird diving down 150 feet in 40 seconds, then strutting around the bottom of the ocean like it lives there, looking for a tasty fish morsel.
It propels itself forward by pumping its wings and feet — you’ll see its head bobbing up and down while it does this. When it reaches the 45-meter depths, the view grows murky and dark and viewer’s can watch it exploring the bed for prey for around 80 seconds before spotting a fish and trekking back to the surface to eat.
The researchers, led by Dr. Flavio Quintana and Dr. Carlos Zavalaga are also using GPS loggers and special tags to track 400 of the birds, in order to protect their feeding areas and understand environmental conditions that affect imperial cormorant populations, a release from the Wildlife Conservation Society says.
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