Family SULIDAE (PLUNGING FISHERS).
GANNETS and BOOBIES.
Bill broad at base, pointed, curved, but not hooked, upper mandible with linear groove on each side. Nostrils closed. Plumage black and white, or brown and white. Tail wedge-shaped. Web between toes not emarginate. Smaller than a goose, ungainly and awkward on land, but a perfect swimmer, with great powers of flight.
" It is conjectured that Gannets destroy more than 100,000,000 of herrings yearly. The apparatus by which this bird is furnished for its aerial powers, as well as for aiding its arrowy descent, is very beautiful and instructive. Professor Owen, by inserting a tube into the windpipe, was enabled to inflate the whole body with air, and found that air cells communicating with each other pervaded every part, separating even the muscles from each other, and isolating the very vessels and nerves, and penetrating the bones of the wings. A large air cell was found to be placed in front of the forked bone or clavicle, which was furnished with muscles, whose action was instantaneously to expel the air, and thus in a moment to deprive the bird of that buoyancy so necessary for its flight, but equally detrimental to its swoop " (The Ocean, by P. H. Gosse).
Temperate and tropical seas.