Pelican feeding frenzy has beachgoers in awe

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Pelicans feed just beyond swimmers in Crucita, Ecuador; images are video screen grabs

Maximiliano Ricci is a longtime fisherman, and has witnessed several wild scenes in which seabirds voraciously preyed upon schooling fish bunched at the surface.

But Ricci and his family had never witnessed a bird frenzy as manic–some might call it Hitchkockian–as a marathon dive-bombing feast that played out recently in the close proximity of swimmers while he and his family vacationed in Crucita, Ecuador.

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Ricci, who is Italian, said the frenzy involved about 1,000 pelicans, diving after thousands upon thousands of sardines that had massed in the shallows.

“Even the locals were amazed at the scene,” Ricci, who does not speak fluent English, said via email. “The sardines were pursued along the coast and the entire scene lasted for about an hour.”

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Ricci uploaded a 52-second video clip to YouTube on Monday. While the clip had only a handful of views at the time of this post, the same clip on Ricci’s Facebook page had been shared more than 3,500 times.

Ricci said people were talking about this incredible pelican feeding event for days.

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Pelicans are large, iconic seabirds known for their large beaks and elastic throat pouches used to snare fish. They’re able to dive into the water at high speeds, while opening their mouths to scoop up prey, without injuring themselves.

Early in Ricci’s footage a woman can be seen clutching the hand of her child, walking away from the dive-bombing flock, presumably just to be on the safe side.

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