What does it look like when 5,300 pairs of imperial cormorants settle onto an Argentine shoreline that’s smaller than a football field? Thanks to recent images captured by drones, scientists and observers are finally able to see the impact of the seabird’s annual nesting session in Patagonia, Argentina.
Each of the nests seen below contains 1-5 eggs, which take about five weeks to hatch. Imperial cormorants (also referred to as “imperial shags”) are colonial breeders that often return to the same nesting grounds for many years. This particular beach is protected to allow the seabirds to breed in peace. Check out the incredible drone footage of the mass nesting here:
Footage from the drones was shot by Dr. Flavio Quintana, a leading marine conservation biologist. Quintana hopes that this new method of collecting data with drones will provide scientists with more information about the Patagonian population of imperial cormorants. Already, the high-quality images and video have helped researchers determine just how many seabirds have congregated at the beach. The footage and data can now be compared to future and past years’ information.
Imperial cormorants are also known for their incredible feeding techniques. In 2012, Quintana’s research team found that the seabirds could dive 150 feet underwater in just 40 seconds. You can see the incredible feat for yourself in this clip (skip to 40 seconds to see the dive begin):