Here comes the superbird

Imperial cormorants have stunned researchers with their amazing underwater feeding techniques

A South American sea bird called imperial cormorant left researchers astonished as it became "superbird" — diving 150 feet underwater in 40 seconds, feeding on the ocean floor for 80 seconds, where it eventually caught a snakelike fish, before returning to the surface 40 seconds later. A small camera fitted with the bird allowed the team of researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the National Research Council of Argentina to watch first-hand the amazing feeding techniques of these fascinating birds, which occur off the coast of Argentina.

The footage shows the cormorant briefly on the surface before diving for the bottom. The camera is attached to the bird’s back, so the view is of its head as it pumps its feet to swim deeper. 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 footage came from Punta Leon in Patagonia, Argentina. A WCS scientific team, led by Dr. Flavio Quintana, has been studying the cormorants’ feeding behaviour for the past 10 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 team has tracked more than 400 cormorants. The information will help identify priority-feeding areas to help design new protected areas and understand environmental conditions that affect cormorant populations. — ANI