Cormorants are found worldwide, actually in the UK they are considered as pest: http://www.cormorantbusters.co.uk/facts.htm
If you read the article you will learn that they have a strong sense of adaptation to most every environment and even pose a menace to local species of birds by consuming most of the food supply they also give the fishing industry quite a struggle. There population is large and over-striving.
So why make the effort to visit the remotest islands of the Galapagos archipelago to spot this bloody bird?
The Flightless Cormorant (Phalacrocorax harrisi) has a quite different story. It is a vulnerable species, the population is small and concentraded in a small area. They are only found off the coast of Fernandina and Isabela Island. Although they have few natural predators in the archipelago, they suffer from climatic phenomena like el Niño which depleted 1/2 the entire population in 1983 this combined with volcanic eruptions, fishing and getting them caught up in fishing gear put them at risk.
So apart from being at risk, what makes Flightless Cormorants special?
- They cannot fly! they are Amazing swimmers
- They are an icon of adaption and evolution, their wings have shrunken to allow them to dive underwater in order to fish
- They can dive at great speed and they are champions at spearfishing for octopus and eels
- They have also adapted their webbed feet, they have stronger legs in order to obtain a stronger impulse when diving. Their soles have also evolved in order to walk on sharp lava rocks.
- Largest of all Cormorants, not only in size but in survival skills
- Beautiful blue eyes
How can they be included in a Galapagos cruise itinerary?
The flightless cormorant is confined to the Western side of Isabela Island and Fernandina Island in the Galapagos archipelago. These are some of the remotest areas of the Islands, therefore only can be reached by taking a naturalist cruise. If you are keen in adding this evolutionary legend to your wildlife checklist then make sure you join a Western Islands itinerary, usually 6 – 8 days.