Blue eyed shags are the only member of the cormorants
to venture down into the Antarctic proper. They are found particularly
along the Scotia arc islands and down the Antarctic peninsula, venturing
as far as 68 degrees south. They are characterized by the vivid eye
colour and the orange / yellow growth at the base of the beak that becomes
particularly large and bright during the breeding season.
They feed mainly on fish frequently forming a "raft"
made up of dozens or hundreds of birds that repeatedly dive down onto
the shoals below helping each other by panicking the fish into having
nowhere to go except into the beak of the next bird. They are excellent
divers with a recorded maximum dive of 116m. Once underwater they use
their powerful webbed feet to propel themselves.
I used to joke that blue eyed shags got their name
because they had a blue eye and you can smoke them - but not enough
people got the joke so I stopped.
Paul Ward - Pentax equipment, 100mm
lens, 35mm film, K64.
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