Deep Dive: Gannets

by Chris Anderson on June 18, 2023

Have you seen the live-action Little Mermaid movie? Those familiar with the Disney animated film may have been surprised to see that Scuttle’s appearance changed. In fact, Scuttle is an entirely different species than in the animated film! For the live-action, Scuttle is a Gannet
Let’s check out more information about this bird species:
Gannets have a very distinct appearance. They have white feathers with black markings at the outer edge of their wings. Their tail and beak are long and pointed. They have distinct blue eyes and beige feathers on their heads.1 
They stand about 3.25 feet tall, with a wingspan that can reach up to 6 feet! They also can weigh almost 8 pounds.1 They’re part of the order Suliformes and the family Sulidae. They have incredible vision that allows them to spot their prey underwater. Their eyes also have a special adaptation that allows them to dive into the water and catch prey. When they dive, they can reach depths of just over 70 feet!2
These birds breed and nest along cliffs by the ocean. They usually will nest in colonies with other gannets. When they reproduce, eggs are incubated by both parents. It’ll take about three months for offspring to start flying. Offspring also are brown, instead of white like their parents. They’ll match their parents in appearance after four years.3
Gannets are known for bringing odd things into their nests.2 When they dive into the water to catch prey, they’ll eat:3
  • Herring 
  • Cod
  • Squid
  • Menhaden 
During the 19th century, these birds were threatened by humans hunting them down and taking their eggs. However, thanks to protections put in place, they began to recover. Presently, they have an increasing population number.3
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All without the use of a real animal! 
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