one lean mean fishing machine

It isn’t every day that you get to watch an expert in action, but on a recent trip to the Everglades I did just that. A Double-crested Cormorant sat on a walkway railing enjoying the morning sun.

Blue Eyes Looking at Me

Blue Eyes Looking at Me

One by one,  other cormorants flew in to join in pond gazing.  At some predetermined time, known only to these large waterbirds, it became open season on the neighborhood fish and they all jumped into the water.



Sensing the potential drama of the moment, I followed this cormorant with my lens. I’m not too pleased with these images, but they do serve to tell a story. The bird stuck its head under water, dove, and soon came up with a plump fish.



The cormorant then proceeded to flip this rather large fish…

Fish Flipping

Fish Flipping

…into a streamlined, vertical, head-down-the-gullet position.

Down the Hatch

Down the Hatch

Note that a fish swallowed head first has all of its fins smoothly laid against its body. Also note that huge mouth!



Don’t try this at home! You are not a cormorant. Besides,  your mother taught you to chew your food.

Within minutes this cormorant resumed fishing and came up with a catfish which it deftly removed of its spines before sending it to join its predecessor. If you ever have the opportunity to watch the Double-crested Cormorants fishing along the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park, don’t miss it. Watching someone else eat has never been more entertaining.

13 thoughts on “one lean mean fishing machine

  1. I definitely had the pleasure of seeing cormorants in action, but the 1st time I saw one in action was when I was fishing with some mates off the coast of Sunderland, UK. I was 19 years old visiting my friend who was away for a year studying abroad in nearby Newcastle where fishing is a passion. Needless to say much like the pictures depicted, it was amazing how fast this process is to engulf a whole fish like the cormorant did there. The day I witnessed it, the fish were a bit different but the same technique. I can tell you that it’s no use for me to engulf a fish like that (even if humans were able to) because you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the taste!

  2. Here’s something people don’t see everyday though it’s a daily happening out in the wild. I wouldn’t worry about the quality of these photos as, you are correct, they told a story. A very interesting one and your words filled in the questions one might wonder about upon seeing these photos. Nice magazine or Sunday expose stuff here, MJ.

  3. Thanks for sharing this experience with us. It is a very interesting series.
    A cormorant must be what we call a ‘skarv’. There is always a debate between the local fishermen and the ornitologists? One group being happy that the birds are increasing in number, and the other group saying that they eat too many fish – and therfore should be killed.

    • Yes, the debate continues here as well, particular with regard to fish farming. I like the way cormorants are used to catch fish for people in South China, assuming that they are well cared for.

  4. I agree. My knowledge of cormorants started when I was a boy and collected stamps. I saw the birds used for fishing on a japanese stamp.
    Thank you for mailing me our address.
    I will put you on my blogroll. To remember, and to show other visitors your blogaddress.

  5. Great photos grandma! I could actually see the story in the pictures. It’s amazing how the Cormorants swallow the fish. I love the pictures that you have taken so far. I should go there more often to take photos also.

    Gabby A.

    Mom, as you can see we’ve enjoyed this blog. I think your pictures are great. It’s hard to capture something so fast. We’ll definitely need to join you on one of your photo safaris soon. I can’t believe that after eating such a big fish that he ate another one! What a voracious eater!

    Love you,

  6. Beautiful photos, the clarity and the brightness –you feel like you are there — the blue of the water make you feel like you can reach right into it and wet your fingertips.


  7. Thanks, Paula. I enjoyed your interesting site as well. My husband and I love fishing. I’m glad we can use a pole and lure, though, instead of having to dive for our lunch.

  8. Hi Morningjoy,

    Talk about a “Big Gulp!” Love your pictures. PS How do you get your comments to show. I have been trying to figure that out.

  9. On My Dashboard, go to Appearance, then Widgets, then Available Widgets. Click on Comments and then you have some options to select from. If that doesn’t do it, go to, while logged in, and search for a forum thread about comments. You should find your answer there. Hope that helps!

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