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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Inca Tern Larosterna inca

With its curling white “mustache” plumes, the Inca tern is easy to identify. It feeds in the cold, nutrient-rich waters of the Humboldt Current, dipping down to the surface to catch small fish. Inca terns often follow sea lions and whales, preying on shoals of fish as they try to escape the larger predators. Inca terns nest among rocks or in abandoned burrows.

Inca Ternzoom image
  • Order Charadriiformes
  • Length 16–17 in (40–42 cm)
  • Weight 6–8 oz (175–225 g)
  • Habitat Coasts and inshore waters
  • Distribution Pacific coast of South America from Ecuador to central Chile
Inca Tern habitat mapzoom image