A small, plain-backed cormorant that is restricted to near-shore marine environments, where it is uncommon. Sometimes it occurs in coastal estuaries alongside the similar Long-tailed Cormorant, which has a shorter crest (year-round), a pale-speckled back, and a relatively longer tail. Nonbreeding and immature plumages are brownish with paler underparts. Frequently roosts on coastal rocks with other marine cormorants, which are larger and have blue or brownish eyes. Flies poorly on short, stubby wings; avoids the deeper marine waters frequented by Cape and Bank cormorants.