The cormorant is a beloved and ancient bird inhabiting the world's shorelines. Cormorants were revered by early explorers and seal hunters because they never venture far from their shore nests, and were a positive indicator of approaching land. Various types of cormorants reside or migrate to the arctic and antarctic regions, as well as the five continents. They are commonly seen along the Chesapeake Bay, often nesting near piers or docks.
In parts of Asia, Cormorants have been domesticated and used as fishing birds for centuries. In Japan, this ancient tradition is protected by the Crown, and only a few families have hereditary rights to fish with cormorants. The birds's necks are banded when they enter into training, so that when they fish, they can retrieve large fish without swallowing them. They are tethered to their boats, and after bringing in their catch for the day (or night), they feast on small fish.
Nightime fishing is an ancient ritual in Japan, and torches are extended from the prows of the fishing boats, to assist the birds and fishermen in spotting fish. These birds are nurtured and worked by one family throughout their lifetime, and are an important partner in an age-old trade.
Cormorant fishing is also a revered practice in China and Korea.