Gannets are seabirds comprising the genus Morus, in the family Sulidae, closely related to boobies. The gannets are large black and white birds with yellow heads; long, pointed wings; and long bills. Northern gannets are the largest seabirds in the North Atlantic, with a wingspan of up to 2 metres. The other two species occur in the temperate seas around southern Africa, southern Australia and New Zealand.
Gannets hunt fish by diving from a height into the sea and pursuing their prey underwater. Gannets have a number of adaptations which enable them to do this:
•they have no external nostrils, they are located inside the mouth instead;
•they have air sacs in their face and chest under their skin which act like bubble wrapping, cushioning the impact with the water;
•their eyes are positioned far enough forward on their face to give them binocular vision, allowing them to judge distances accurately.
Gannets can dive from a height of 30 metres, achieving speeds of 100 km/h as they strike the water, enabling them to catch fish much deeper than most airborne birds.