But this is beautiful:
This is a fine example of a Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus), off the coast of the Isle of Man. Chris describes this as “pretty much just a bread and butter shot”, so I look forward to seeing some of his “fine dining” work at some point.
You may see close relatives of this fellow (the bird, not Chris) off the Cape coast too. But those, like just every other bird found around here, take the title ‘Cape’ – Cape Gannet (Morus capensis). And whereas there are loads of Northern Gannets to go around, our local species is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so don’t go poaching them, ok?
There are some pretty cool facts about gannets. They are cleverly adapted (Evolution FTW!) to be able to dive from a great height to catch fish. Because they can hit the water at up to 100kph, special air-sacs within their skull protect them from the massive impact, like biological bubble wrap. Additionally, their nostrils are inside their mouths, preventing that awkward unintentional nasal lavage that can all too often ruin a good dive.
It must make things pretty nasty when they get a cold though. Eww.
Photo credit: Many thanks to Chris for his permission to use his photo.