The world's only flightless cormorant
What you need to know about the Flightless Cormorant
Another unique Galápagos resident, the Flightless Cormorant is the only species of cormorant in the archipelago. It’s the heaviest of the world’s cormorants, and the only one to have evolved to become flightless, thanks to the Galápagos’ unique isolation and rich habitat.
Found on the shoreline and beaches of Isabela and Fernandina Islands, the Galápagos Flightless Cormorant is unmistakable with its stubby, under-developed wings. Over millennia, the lack of natural predators and the rich, fish-filled waters meant that the strongest swimmers prevailed over the best flyers, and there are now around 800 pairs in the Galápagos.
The Flightless Cormorant breeds throughout the year, but most eggs are laid between May and October. Breeding pairs perform a strange and unique courtship dance that involves them intertwining their necks while turning together in a tight circle.
The cormorants nest directly on sheltered rocky shores where they build up nests made from seaweed just above the high water line, giving them the shortest walk down to the sea to feed. On your Galápagos cruise you’ll have ample opportunity to observe these rare creatures, and when you see how ungainly they are on land you will understand why they build nests close to the sea!
Our naturalist guides will explain to you how the Galápagos Flightless Cormorants are particularly susceptible to the weather events known as El Niño, and their populations can be devastated in bad years. Officially listed as “vulnerable”, the National Park has been working carefully to support the populations by removing any invasive species around the nesting sites.
Flightless Cormorant: Interesting facts
Because it has lost the ability to fly, the Galápagos Cormorant has been able to grow into the heaviest cormorant species
Like all cormorants, the Flightless Cormorant has 4 toes on each foot, each joined with a web of skin
Adult Flightless Cormorants make a low, growling noise as their call
Flightless cormorants don't use their stubby wings to "fly" underwater, they swim with their strong legs and feet