A red-footed booby draws attention to a whale-watching boat


**UPDATE: The red-footed booby was on the same ship, High Spirits, again on Wednesday. Click here to see beautiful images and learn the nickname of the madman.

On Tuesday, whale watchers in California’s Monterey Bay made way for a red-footed booby as the rare seabird landed on the rail as if to become just another passenger.

“A young red-footed booby landed on the boat today, so we took the whale watch,” Katlyn Taylor, naturalist for Blue Ocean Whale Watch, wrote in her Facebook video description.

In Taylor’s video, posted below, and Captain Kate Cummings’ Instagram video, the seabird casually swoops around as if undisturbed by the presence of people, as whales at hump feed beyond the bow.

Passengers, giving space to the boobies, are perhaps more impressed with the exotic visitor than the whales, which are common in Monterey Bay.

ALSO: Rare whale shark spotted by pilot off Southern California; video

Red-footed boobies nest on tropical islands and atolls, so Monterey is well beyond their usual range.

© Kate Cummings

Cummings told FTW Outdoors that she had encountered only one other red-footed booby in Monterey Bay in 2018 before Tuesday’s encounter.

“He hitchhiked in Moss Landing harbor on a fishing boat and died a few days later,” Cummings recalled. “But the fool we had [Tuesday] appeared healthy and active as he was seen successfully diving for anchovies and preening on our boat.

© Kate Cummings

Red-footed boobies, named for the striking coloration of their legs, feed on fish and squid and hunt by flying slowly above the surface.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, seabirds are known to rest on ships when hunting in open water.

© Kate Cummings

The lab’s website states, “Individuals can board a ship or fly alongside it, and when flying fish take flight in front of the ship, the booby quickly flies towards it, catching it in the beak. Red-footed boobies also congregate around actively feeding fish such as tuna, which push small fish to the surface.

On Tuesday, the booby appeared to have taken advantage of the whales dispersing huge schools of anchovies.


Comments are closed.