Stocky and large-headed with a shaggy crest. Bill is long, straight, thick, and pointed. Powder blue above with white underparts and blue breast band. Females have additional rusty band across belly. Almost always solitary, perched along the edges of the ocean and the bay in mangrove fringes. Flies along the shoreline giving loud rattling calls. Hunts for fish by plunging headfirst into the water, either directly from a perch or hovering. Very skittish and difficult to spot when not moving.