Northern Gannets


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The Northern Gannet is an extraordinarily large, magnificent seabird. They live at sea on the open ocean except for the breeding months. A few months out of the year they nest on cliffs in the North Atlantic or Iceland. They are graceful and unique with blue eyes and a snow-white body with a yellow head and dark wingtips. The Northern Gannet has a beak that looks as if they could use it as a bayonet. They plunge dive at high speeds into the ocean to feed on fish. The Northern Gannet is a proficient underwater swimmer, diving as deep as 72 feet. They retract their wings so they look like a v-shaped airplane as they dive. The Northern Gannets are monogamous and mate for life. Both sexes feed the young and take turns going fishing. When the pair meet or reunite, they greet each other at their nesting site. The greeting ritual is a lot of head shaking, bill clacking, and mutual preening. The Gannet form of billing and cooing, maybe? I photographed this pair of Northern Gannets in flight off the coast of Machias Seal Island from a boat.

Sandra Calderbank
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