I saw my first Anhinga in July, 1993, on Hilton Head Island, and an anhigna was the first bird I saw when my plane landed at the Orlando Airport. This is a really weird creature. It looks almost like a Pterodactyl or some other prehistoric bird ancestor. It is truly unique in that it is the only member of its family, the Anhingidae, in North America.
I love it when an animal's common name is the same as its scientific name, and the anhinga is one of those. It belongs to the genus Anhinga, and it full name is Anhinga anhinga. Weird, huh? I can think of three other animals which share this quirk - the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), the American bison (Bison bison) and as a matter of fact, the Western Lowland Gorilla is even in the subspecies "gorilla" so its full name is Gorilla gorilla gorilla. But, I digress.
One of the neat things about the anhinga is how is swims - with its body completely submerged and only its neck sticking out above the surface. This appearance has led to one of its nicknames, "snake bird."
Like its close relatives, the cormorants, the anhigna dives under water to snare a fish, then surfaces to swallow its meal.
Also like the cormorants, anhingas lack the oil necessary to water-proof their feathers. This makes it easier to submerge to fish, but complicates flying, since it is hard to get airborne with waterlogged plumage. So, after feeding and bathing, anhingas must perch with their wings outspread to dry off in the sun. This is when I think they look their most primitive.