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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Australasian Gannet

The Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator), also known as the Australian Gannet, or Tākapu, is a large seabird found along the coastal islands around Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand. These birds have been increasing in numbers since 1950, although some colonies have decreased in size, and others have disappeared all together.

Adults have a white body with dark wing tips. The head is yellow with a pale blue-gray bill. Juveniles are black in the first year, and gradually gain more white plumage each season until maturity after 5 years.

Gannets remain together as pairs over several seasons. Their greeting and mating rituals are elaborate, stretching their bills and necks skyward and gently tapping bills together. Adults remain close to the nesting colonies, whilst younger birds scatter. These birds are plunge divers and spectacular fishers, diving into the ocean at high speed. The diet consists mainly of squid and small fish.

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Australasian Gannet