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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Northern Gannet Morus bassanus

This highly streamlined bird with its gleaming white body and black-tipped wings is the most striking plunge-diver in the north Atlantic. Northern gannets roam the seas with a distinctive pattern of flapping and gliding flight, attacking shoals of fish by diving from heights of up to 100 ft (30 m). They breed in crowded colonies on rocky islands and clifftops, laying a single egg each year. Juveniles take five years to mature, gradually losing their brown plumage. During that time, they roam far over the ocean before returning to their native colony to breed.

Northern Gannetzoom image
Northern Gannetzoom image
  • Order Pelecaniformes
  • Length 34–39 in (87–100 cm)
  • Weight 6–7 lb (2.8–3.2 kg)
  • Habitat Open sea, rocky coasts, offshore islands
  • Distribution Eastern and western coasts of north Atlantic
Northern Gannet habitat mapzoom image