Four species of cormorants or shags breed on the coast of Patagonia, with the imperial cormorant being the most abundant. This species forms densely packed breeding colonies on horizontal surfaces, on islands or isolated shores. The near threatened red-legged cormorant is mostly restricted to the cold-water Humboldt Current region breeds along Chile and Peru, but it also breeds in small colonies on ledges and cliff faces along the coast of Santa Cruz Province in Argentina. It is an iconic species in this coastal sector, being one of the main targets for wildlife based tourism.
Cormorants share with other seabirds the same habitats off shore where fisheries operate, and are frequently impacted as by-catch. There is still interest in commercial exploitation of their guano on the coast of Patagonia, although the industry is not currently active. When unregulated, tourism and recreation can disturb breeding colonies that are easily accessible.
We work closely with government on the creation and strengthening of coastal protected areas to ensure that all cormorants on the coast of Patagonia are effectively protected. In addition, we help monitor breeding numbers and success in different colonies, health indicators, foraging effort, diet composition and food consumption. Lastly, we help provide information on the ecological requirements and interactions of cormorants with human activities and transfer this information to management for its conservation.