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Pelagic cormorant

Pelagic cormorant
Pelagic cormorant Pelagic cormorant

Found in Monterey Bay

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Phalacrocorax pelagicus

  • Animal Type


  • Diet


  • Size

    to 35 inches (89 cm)

  • Relatives

    crested and pelagic cormorants

Natural History

Pelagic cormorants live along open, windswept coasts. They nest along with other cormorants and other seabirds on steep, remote cliffs where they're safer from predators.

Unlike Brandt's cormorants, which sometimes hunt cooperatively, pelagic cormorants hunt alone, often diving into heavy surf for crabs, worms and small fishes. Though they often dive in shallow water along the shores, they also can make very deep dives—sometimes to 180 feet (55 m) or more.


Cormorants feed largely on fish of little commercial value, though in times past they were harassed by fishermen who blamed the birds for depleting their catches. 

Safe nesting sites are becoming scarcer for cormorants and other seabirds.

Cool Facts

Pelagic cormorants will use one nest for several years, piling up seaweed, grass and ocean debris until the mound is five to six feet high.

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