For years, it was assumed that imperial cormorants — large seabirds typically found along the southern coasts of South America — fed on fish just below the surface of the ocean. But when scientists in Argentina outfitted one with a tiny camera, they discovered that the birds are, in fact, remarkably accomplished predatory divers.
"This is the first time we have seen them diving to the floor," explains World Conservation Society biologist Martin Mendez, in an interview with National Geographic. "It's a new behavior—people didn't know about this before."
The video up top shows the footage that was captured by the bird during its epic plunge to the ocean floor. Its head can be seen bobbing up and down as it uses its feet and wings to propel itself ever deeper, where the water grows frigid and light is sparse. While scanning the seabed, it spots a fish, snags it, and quickly returns to the surface. Uncut footage of the dive reveals that the trip takes a little under three minutes: forty seconds to descend, eighty seconds to survey the ocean floor, and another forty seconds to return to the surface with its prey.
Not too shabby for a bird that, until recently, was only thought to be capable of shallow, 70-second dives.