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These feathered fishermen don’t need a line

After gaining altitude, a brown pelican banks hard to the left and dives at the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. Pelicans work in tandem to drive fish closer to the shallows, making them easier to catch.
After gaining altitude, a brown pelican banks hard to the left and dives at the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. Pelicans work in tandem to drive fish closer to the shallows, making them easier to catch. ttisbell@sunherald.com

They might not be the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds, but pelicans at the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor looking for their next meal do some precision flying of their own.

Twelve pelicans made the channel leading out of the harbor their personal smorgasbord Monday.

Working in pairs and sometimes in groups of four, pelicans flew inches above the water. Suddenly, they’d gain altitude, bank left and make a fast descent, diving beak first into the water. For a brief second, the only thing visible would be tail feathers and legs. Then, the upper body would appear. After a brief respite, the pelicans take off again on their next sortie.

Pelicans will forage as a group as they drive fish toward the shallows and the shore. That makes it easier for them to gather up their meal.

This example of Top Gun flying continued for most of the morning as the pelicans banked, dove and thrilled with their precision stunts. Maverick and Goose would be proud of these hungry thrill-seekers.

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