WCS Argentina

Cormorants

Four species of cormorants or shags breed on the coast of Patagonia: the imperial cormorant, rock cormorant, red-legged cormorant and Neotropic cormorant. The imperial cormorant is the most abundant. This species forms densely packed breeding colonies on horizontal surfaces, on islands or isolated shores. The rock and red-legged cormorants nest in small colonies on ledges in cliff faces. Neotropic cormorants usually nest together on bushes where they build large stick nests.

Conservation Challenges

Although forbidden in some provinces, there is still interest in commercial exploitation of guano on the coast of Patagonia. Guano, which in Patagonia is mainly produced by imperial cormorants, makes a valuable fertilizer. Harvesting must be conducted in a way that does not affect the breeding success of the birds. Viewing of cormorants by tourists provides a special challenge to avoid disturbance. This must be done with care and sufficient distance must be kept from the birds at all times so that they are not disturbed.

Conservation Approach

WCS provides assistance for the creation and strengthening of coastal protected areas to ensure that cormorants on the coast of Patagonia are effectively protected. We conduct research to gather information for the conservation of this group of seabirds and develop management recommendations for government authorities. WCS seeks to build a strong local constituency for the conservation of these species and the marine environments they inhabit.

Goals

To ensure the conservation of cormorants breeding on the coast of Patagonia ,providing information and recommendations to minimize threats to their populations.

Activities

WCS provides assistance for the creation and strengthening of coastal protected areas to ensure that all cormorants on the coast of Patagonia are effectively protected. We monitor  colonies, including breeding numbers, breeding success, health indicators, foraging effort and food consumption. We gather information on the ecological requirements and interactions of cormorants with human activities and transfer this information to management for the conservation of this interesting group of seabirds.

Threats

Disturbance of breeding colonies is the principal threat on land. At sea cormorants can become entangled in fishing gear. Recent evidence shows potential consequences of climate change on cormorant breeding distribution and feeding behavior.

Accomplishments

WCS researchers produced the baseline information on location and size of all cormorant colonies on the coast of Patagonia. This information has been key in the creation of coastal protected areas in Patagonia that now include all of the main cormorants breeding colonies. WCS also played a key role in the creation by Argentina of the“Parque Marino Patagonia Austral” in Golfo San Jorge that provides protection forover 25% of the total breeding population of imperial cormorants on the coast of Patagonia.

Contact

WCS Argentina
Amenabar 1595 piso 2 oficina 19, C1426AKC CABA

Key Staff

Esteban Frere
Coastal Argentina Program Seabirds
Flavio Quintana
Coastal Argentina Program Seabirds
Pablo Yorio
Coastal Argentina Program Seabirds
Adrian Schiavini
Coastal Argentina Program Seabirds
Patricia Gandini
Coastal Argentina Program Seabirds

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