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Cormorants are a family of sea birds whose diet consist mostly of fish. These birds are masters in fishing – they wait for their prey on sea shores or by the side of rivers, and at the right moment dive underwater, propelling themselves with their wings and feet, and catch fish with their specially designed beaks. In ancient Japan and China, fishermen have learned to keep and train these birds to help them catch fish in rivers. This is known as cormorant fishing or “ukai” in Japan. It is still practiced in select places in Japan, particularly in the Nagara River in Gifu Prefecture, where the ancient art has a long history going back to more than 1,300 years.

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Photo by Chris McGrath

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