Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture

Rhinoceros Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet
(Cerorhinca monocerata)

Habitat
Ocean; comes ashore only to breed

Range
Breeds from Alaska south along coast to central California. Largest colony in Washington is on Protection Island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Eats
Crustaceans and small fish such as Pacific sand lance, smelt, herring and rockfish. Forages throughout the open sea or in bountiful, inshore waters.

Feeds
Captures prey through wing-propelled pursuit-diving. From a resting position on the water, ducks under the surface, then beats its wings and "flies" underwater to snap up fish with a laterally compressed bill. Can hold several fish crosswise.

Moves
Flies fast and close to the water's surface at 35 to 50 miles per hour. Short wings and a compact, muscular body demand continuous, staccato wing beats.

Song
Mostly silent but on the nesting grounds they can be noisy, making piercing screams upon arrival, and throaty calls deep within the burrow.

Reproduction
Breeds in OCNMS. Monogamous, nests in colonies of burrows dug into cliff sides, or in rock crevices. They lay one egg per year in April and May and attend the solitary chick though the summer. Chicks fledge in late summer. Nocturnal around breeding colonies.

Threats
Terrestrial predators such as foxes, raccoons, cats and rats can enter burrows and eat eggs and chicks.

Status
Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Presence in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
Resident; present all year.

Notes
Named for the unusual knobby, white protrusion that forms on the bill of breeding adults.
Extraordinary diving ability; drowned birds have been recovered from gill-nets set 300 feet or more below the surface. Dense, waterproof wings are adapted for underwater propulsion, and strong bones resist crushing water pressures at great depths. Enhanced oxygen-storing capacity and the ability to use anaerobic respiration during long dives allow the auklet to stay underwater for up to two minutes.



Contact for page content: Liam Antrim
Photo of peach coral
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