North­ern ful­mar

Canadian Wildlife - - OUT THERE -

SCI­EN­TIFIC NAME

Ful­marus glacialis

RE­GION

At­lantic prov­inces and east­ern Arc­tic

CON­SER­VA­TION STA­TUS

Least con­cern

WHY SO SPE­CIAL

Vomits stom­ach oil to de­fend it­self

COOL FACTOR

The name ful­mar comes from Gaelic mean­ing “foul gull,” al­though the ful­mar is not a gull at all but rather a seabird closely re­lated to the al­ba­tross. As for it be­ing foul, well, that part of the name is more ac­cu­rate. Ful­mars, like some other Pro­cel­lari­iformes, store foul-smelling, gooey, orange-coloured oil in their stom­ach, a residue from their diet of krill, squid and fish. When a nest­ing ful­mar or its chick is threat­ened by a preda­tor such as a large gull or a fal­con, it vomits a pro­jected stream of repug­nant oil at its at­tacker. Feath­ers splat­tered with oil be­come mat­ted and lose their wa­ter­proof­ing, and un­lucky vic­tims may even­tu­ally drown or die of hy­pother­mia.

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