Gannet, a seabird that breeds along rocky coasts. Gannets are found in many places around the world, some species living in cold regions, others in tropical and subtropical climates. The northern species go south in winter.

Gannets are often seen far out at sea, and seldom come to land except during storms and to breed. They feed on fish, which they catch by diving into the water, sometimes from a great height; a network of air sacs under the skin helps cushion the impact of the dive. Gannets breed in large colonies, building nests of seaweed and grass on rocky cliffs. There are one or two eggs, greenish-blue and covered with a chalky substance, which hatch in about six weeks.

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The northern gannet breeds in great numbers on the west coasts of the British Isles, and on the eastern North American coast south to Nova Scotia. It is also found in Greenland and Iceland. It is the largest gannet, about 36 inches (90 cm) long with a wingspread of up to 6 feet (1.8 m). It is white with black-tipped wings. The bill is large and pointed, and the tail is wedge-shaped. The cape gannet of South Africa and the Australian gannet are similar to the northern gannet, but are slightly smaller. The booby, also a gannet, is smaller still.

The northern gannet is Sula bassanus; cape, S. capensis; Australian, S. serrator. Gannets belong to the family Sulidae.


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