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Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

The Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is a large, black, and conspicuous waterbird with an almost primitive appearance, with its long neck making it appear reptilian. It is often seen standing with its wings held out to dry.

Regarded by some as sinister and greedy, cormorants are supreme fishers, which can bring them into conflict with anglers, thus causing them to be persecuted in the past.

The UK holds internationally significant wintering numbers.

Seen by Thames (Strand on the Green) and by the lake (in the gardens of Chiswick House) in Sept 2020.

Cormorant fishing is practised in China, Japan, and elsewhere around the globe. In this practice, fishermen tie a line around the throats of cormorants, tight enough to prevent swallowing the larger fish they catch and deploy them from small boats. The cormorants catch fish without being able to swallow them fully, and the fishermen are able to retrieve the fish simply by forcing open the cormorants’ mouths, apparently engaging the regurgitation reflex.

In Norway, the cormorant is a traditional game bird. Each year approximately 10,000 cormorants are shot to be eaten. In North Norway, cormorants are traditionally seen as semi-sacred. It is regarded as good luck to have cormorants gather near your village or settlement. An old legend states that for people who die far out at sea, whose bodies are never recovered, spend eternity on the island Utrøst – which can only occasionally be found by mortals. The inhabitants of Utrøst can only visit their homes in the shape of cormorants.


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