Alaska Species Explorer

Pelagic Cormorant

Common Name: Pelagic Cormorant
Scientific Name: Phalacrocorax pelagicus

In North America they are only found on the Pacific Coast. Range from the arctic waters of the Chukchi and Bering Seas, south along the North American Coast to Baja California. It also breeds along the Asian coast to southern China.

Conservation Status: Globally this species is stable, but the population in Alaska is of high concern.
Average Wingspan: 40-47 inches
Average Weight: 1370-2240 grams
Plumage Description:

Breeding adults have a patch of dark red skin around their eyes and base of the bill, a conspicuous white patch on each flank with purplish and greenish highlights.

Diet in the Wild: Fish and marine invertebrates.
Number of Eggs Per Clutch: 1-8 eggs

They nest in small dispersed colonies on cliffs of rocky islands and headlands, but also in sea caves, on driftwood logs, pilings, and man-made structures. Typically, they place their nests on narrow ledges and in shallow hollows on the steepest and tallest rock faces available, often in areas with other species of cormorants.

Threats in the Wild: Fishing nets, oil spills, human disturbance
Did you know?:
  • The name Pelagic Cormorant is misleading as the species prefers near shore areas year round