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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Equally at home in fresh water and at sea, the great cormorant can be found across a vast swath of the world, from Greenland to Australasia. From a distance, the great cormorant's plumage looks jet black, but close up it has a greenish metallic sheen, with white patches that vary between local races. Like its many relatives, the great cormorant fishes by pursuit diving and its feathers are only partly waterproof. After feeding, it rests with its wings spread apart to dry. Great cormorants have a strong, direct flight, with steady flapping interspersed with short glides. They can often be seen in small groups, skimming just above the surface of the sea or following rivers inland. Great cormorants nest on rocky ledges and in trees, making a platform out of seaweed, flotsam, or twigs, and the females lay three or four greenish-white eggs. Great cormorants are sometimes persecuted by anglers, particularly in trout-fishing regions, but they remain highly successful.

Great Cormorantzoom image
Great Cormorantzoom image
Great Cormorantzoom image
  • Order Pelecaniformes
  • Length 32–40 in (80–101 cm)
  • Weight 4–5 lb (2–2.5 kg)
  • Habitat Coasts, inshore waters, rivers, lakes
  • Distribution Northeast North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia
Great Cormorant habitat mapzoom image