Brown Pelican profile, Pelecanus occidentalis
The brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is one of natures least graceful "diving" birds. Brown pelicans don't "deep-dive" to hunt like many other seabirds but "plunge-dive" onto the surface of the water to catch their prey with a huge amount of force - if you haven't seen what we mean before, check out this YouTube video which will show you more.
Brown pelicans can dive like this from over 9m above the water. If humans dove into the water at such a height over and over, we’d probably hurt ourselves. But pelicans have adapted to protect themselves. They have special air sacs beneath their skin that they inflate just before impact to protect internal organs. And as they dive, they rotate to the left to avoid injuring their trachea and esophagus which run along the right side of their neck.
Photograph by AJ Baxter
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