An imperial cormorant dived 150 feet deep into the ocean within 40 seconds, looking for prey on its floor where it eventually caught a snakelike fish, before returning to the surface 40 seconds later.
The amazing feat off the coast of Argentina, captured by a tiny camera attached to the South American sea bird's back, stunned researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the National Research Council of Argentina.
The footage shows the cormorant briefly on the surface before diving for the bottom. The camera is attached to the bird's back, so the view is of its head as it pumps its feet to swim deeper. When it finally reaches the ocean floor, it explores a vast area searching for food. It eventually finds an elongated fish, which it brings to the surface to eat, according to a WCS statement.
The footage came from Punta Leon in Patagonia, Argentina, a coastal protected area supporting more than 3,500 pairs of imperial cormorants. A WCS scientific team, led by Flavio Quintana, has been studying the cormorants' feeding behaviour for the past 10 years.
The team was joined by Carlos Zavalaga along with Ken Yoda from the University of Nogoya, Japan, to fit the camera on the bird.
The WCS team has tracked more than 400 cormorants along the Patagonian coast of Argentina using cutting edge technological tools such as multi-channel archival tags and high resolution GPS-loggers.
This information will help identify priority feeding areas to help design new protected areas and to understand environmental conditions that affect cormorant populations.