Image for Vertical torpedo

Vertical torpedo

Duration: 02:33

Gannets are the ultimate bird of the high seas. As nets are hauled back into fishing boats, these birds go crazy for the easy pickings. Gannets are the largest of our seabirds and it's hard to imagine one better adapted to a life on the high seas. This is their true habitat, and where they sprend more than three quarters of their lives. Their speciality is aerial fishing: they float above the waves scanning for prey, then fold their wings back to become like vertical torpedos so they can descend at speeds of up to 60mph. But there is one time of year when even this master of the seas must return to land. In the spring and summer they breed and the coasts and islands of the UK are one of the best places for seabirds in the whole of the northern hemisphere. Spectacular colonies hold hundreds of thousands of individual birds, packed together on small offshore islands for one simple reason: to avoid their eggs and chicks being taken by land-based predators such as rats and foxes. However, being squashed in so close to your neighbours can often lead to a bit of argy bargy between birds.

Available since: Thu 20 May 2010


Gordon Buchanan
Stephen Moss
Executive Producer
Tim Scoones

This clip is from

Springwatch 2010, High Seas with Gordon Buchanan

Gordon Buchanan discovers the world's top ocean predator on the UK's high seas.

First broadcast: 20 May 2010

Image for High Seas with Gordon Buchanan Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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