What a beauty it is, the Morus bassinus L.: the Northern gannet or Jan-van-Gent (NL) or Fou de Bassan (F) or Basstölpel (D) or Alcatraz atlántico (E). I like this diversity of names, showing how differently the bird is perceived in trait, behaviour, habitat or niche.

The scala of names given to one species – this is in fact throughout the complete domains of fauna, flora and fungi – underlines the cultural differences between folk and country. And that is good. It broadens the understanding of the essence of living beings. It is good to have Carl Linnaeus for the common understanding.

This bird dives with a speed up to 190 km/hr into the sea, to catch what it needs to live and prosper. What a focus. And the colours. Oh, those colours. Almost art. I found the drawing from my notebook on our way (with my girls) to Scotland in 2005. On the ferry we witnessed a rain of arrows falling from the sky. Quite a spectacular view.

Kruf, J.P. (2022) Jan-van-Gent [fine art print]. Breda: private collection.