This is the story of a bird which was a rarity in Europe until a few years ago: the great cormorant. Its sightings were few in number as they could only be found in coastal environments. However, this has changed radically due to the fact that the hunting season has only been maintained in Sweden, Norway and Switzerland, resulting in it becoming a protected species in the rest of the states of Western, Central and Northern Europe. All this has caused a significant increase in the population to reach 450,000 adult specimens in Western Europe.
As a result, the great cormorant has moved from the coast to set up its ecological niche on rivers and reservoirs. The novel image of the black bird drying its wings in the sun and sitting on dry logs on rivers is increasingly frequent, and is impressing ornithologists from all over Europe who organise meet-ups in urban parks to watch them. This is giving society the opportunity to get to know this bird.
The great cormorant is an especially piscivorous species which we find in both fresh and salt water with impressive voracity thanks to its anatomy, diving ability and aerodynamics. These characteristics have given the species a very bad name amongst fishermen, causing them to demand the extermination of its populations as they clash with their interests.
But the reality is quite different. Like all predators, it is very easy for them to feed on ill or poorly adapted prey, by which they perform a form of genetic cleansing with a clear advantage.
Also, we mustn’t forget that their breeding quarters are protected by law, meaning that there will be no regression of the species despite the war declared by fishermen. Fishing organisations in the United Kingdom and Spain are influencing public opinion with campaigns against the great cormorant, even requesting its extermination.
The solution is to accept this bird as it is and understand its adaptation to the environment. The matter is still open to debate.