A team of researchers from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and El Centro Nacional Patagónico (CENPAT, CONICET) recorded the Imperial Shag (Phalacrocorax atriceps) during its dive to the bottom of the ocean. The camera was fitted on the back of the bird. The shag dived 50 m in just 40 seconds and it stayed for 80 seconds near the sea-bed to search for food. The team has been studying the diving behaviour of these southamerican marine birds for nine years. The distribution of Imperial Cormorant spans from subantarctic islands and the Antarctic peninsula to southern Argentina. They forage on sea-bed fish, crustaceans, polichaetes, gastropodes and octopuses.
The researchers have tracked more than 400 Imperial Shags along the Patagonian coast using GPS technology. The aim of the study is to identify key foraging areas of these birds and to outline the environmental factors affecting their populations.
WCS has been working in Patagonia for more than five decades. During this time they managed to establish a set of protected areas for the local fauna, including penguines, albatrosses and elephant seals.
author of the article: Urša Koce