Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)


The Northern Gannet is a very distinctive bird. The adults have white plumage with a yellow head and black wingtips. The long, firm beak is grey, the bright eye surrounded with black. The Gannet has strong black webbed feet. In flight it is easy recognisable by its size: adults grow to a maximum wing span of 192 cm.The northern Gannet need to take off from water by facing into the wing and beating their wings strongly, as light winds can sometimes stop them from taking off, becoming beached.


The Northern Gannet is a seafowl. It builds its nests into steep cliff walls in the northern Atlantic but can be seen during winter time in the Mediterranean.


The Northern Gannet hunts for fish. It dives from up to 30 m straight into the sea. Before hitting the surface, it folds its wings behind its back to dampen the impact.

Protection status

This species is listed as Least Concernon the IUCN Red List.

Interesting Facts

In Greek Mythology, the sea goddess Leucothea appears ‘in likeness of a Gannet’ and offered her veil to Odysseus from a shipwreck which will save his life and help him reach land.

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