Wednesday, August 22, 2007


During the morning's surfing trip, the tidbit that cormorant populations are picking up in the US, and that there is a colony in New York, leaped at me. One of the most interesting things about it is the perception of the birds in the culture:
Their arrival has drawn mixed reactions. Cormorants are big and black, with sharp curved bills and a habit of vomiting when threatened. When they stretch their wings out to dry, they seem to be wearing the black cloaks associated with vampires. They are also mercilessly efficient marine predators, with the ability to fly like ducks and dive like penguins, which has not endeared them to fishermen (or, for that matter, anchovies).

Dracula is the last thing I think about, when I see a cormorant in Norway. Here they are part of a magic uniquely connected to the land, and fairytales have them be mysterious sorceresses, wearing their black feathers when they fly to their secret skerries out towards the open sea. There they hoard treasures untold of, and lucky is the fisherman who is loved by a cormorant woman.

Parts of this is probably connected to what troubles the fishermen in New York: Cormorants are very efficient predators. This means that when cormorants return/arrive somewhere, it's because there is fish. So if you find out where the cormorants fish, you have found a good spot - your own secret skerry at the edge of the open ocean, where you can find wealth... a wealth if not of magical jewels and gold, then at least the silver of the ocean.

No comments: