Sunday, August 19, 2007


The Spectacled Cormorant or Pallas's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax perspicillatus[1]) is an extinct marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabited Bering Island and possibly other places in the Komandorski Islands. A presumed prehistoric record from Amchitka Island, Alaska (Siegel-Causey et al., 1991), is based on misidentification of Double-crested Cormorant remains (Olson, 2005).

The species was first identified by Georg Steller in 1741 on Vitus Bering's disastrous second Kamchatka expedition. He described the bird as large, clumsy and almost flightless - though it was probably rather reluctant to fly than physically unable -, and wrote "they weighed 12 – 14 pounds, so that one single bird was sufficient for three starving men."

Apart from the fact that it fed on fish, almost nothing else is known about this bird. The population declined quickly after further visitors to the area started collecting the birds for food and feathers, and their reports of profitable whaling grounds and large populations of Arctic Foxes and other animals with valuable pelts led to a massive influx of whalers and fur traders into the region; the last birds were reported to have lived around 1850 on Ariy Rock (Russian: Арий Камень[2]) islet, off the northwestern tip of Bering Island.


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