King Shag

27th April 2011

Conservation status:

Vulnerable (IUCN 3.1)

Scientific classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Phalacrocoracidae
Genus: Phalacrocorax
Species: P. carunculatus

The King Shag (Phalacrocorax carunculatus), is also known as the New Zealand King Shag or Rough-faced Shag. This bird is rare and endemic to New Zealand.


It is a large (76 cm long, 2.5 kg in weight) black and white cormorant with pink feet. White patches on the wings appear as bars when the wings are folded. Yellow-orange swellings (caruncules) are found above the base of the bill. The grey gular pouch is reddish in the breeding season. A blue eye-ring indicates its kinship with the other blue-eyed shags.


King Shags live in the coastal waters of the Marlborough Sounds. They can be seen from the Cook Strait Ferry in Queen Charlotte Sound opposite the beginning of the Troy Channel.

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