Phenomena

Pelican Diving

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Pelicans, like many sea birds, are aerial divers. They spot their prey from high above, bank, and dive into the water to catch the fish. Although they hit the water at high speeds, pelican diving techniques differ somewhat from plunge divers like gannets or boobies. Pelicans are only aiming for a shallow dive, so they have features – like their expandable neck pouch – that help them decelerate quickly instead of taking a full-body plunge. The goal is to increase drag after the head enters, slowing everything down. That can add more stress to the bird’s neck – the rest of the body is still moving quickly even after the head begins to slow. To counter this compression, the birds must have strong neck muscles to stabilize their spines during the impact process. (Video and image credit: Deep Look)

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