Flora and Fauna

Boobies – beautiful and bountiful on Ecuador’s coast! Blue-footed boobies, that is #AtoZChallenge

Did you think I was going to talk about some other kind of boobies? I am writing about blue-footed boobies, beautiful birds.

Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, is surrounded by Machalilla National Park, which includes tropical forests, cloud forests, beaches, ocean, and islands. One of the park residents that attracts visitors is the interestingly named blue-footed booby.

I have read that you need to travel to the Galapagos to see blue-footed boobies but that is not accurate. I see them on beaches and cliffs around Puerto Lopez.  They like to hang out on rocky cliffs above the ocean.

Blue-footed boobies on cliff
Blue-footed boobies on a cliff in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

One way to guarantee seeing a booby is to hop on a boat and head 17 miles offshore to Isla de la Plata.  The island is home to blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies, but the blue-footed ones are by far the most prevalent.

Baby blue-footed boobies have white feet and are covered in fluffy white fur.

Blue-footed booby with young
Baby blue-footed booby with parent
Isla de la Plata, Ecuador

Mom or Dad is always nearby until the baby is grown, feathered, and flying after their first year.

Six month old blue footed booby with parent
Six month old blue-footed booby with parent
Isla de la Plata, Ecuador
(photo courtesy of my mom, Marsha Benson)

They prepare for flying and strengthen their wings by standing near the edge of cliffs with their wings spread while the wind blows.

Six month old blue footed booby strengthening wings
Young blue-footed booby practicing flight technique
Isla de la Plata, Ecuador

The feet turn blue over time as a byproduct of the nutrients in the fish they eat.

Adult blue footed boobies on Isla de la Plata
Adult blue-footed boobies
Isla de la Plata, Ecuador

Tour boats leave for Isla de la Plata around 9:00 each morning from the Puerto Lopez pier and return by 4:00.  After a hike around the island, you can go snorkeling with large sea turtles and colorful fish.  Sometimes you will see whales or pods of dolphins on the boat trip between the island and the pier.

In an effort to preserve the island and breeding grounds, a limited number tour companies are licensed by the national park service. Cost per person is $35-$40 depending on the season. Bring water because there are no shops on the island!

Blue Footed Boobies, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

 

2017 A to Z Challenge - B

Emily is a US Expat in Ecuador. She grew up on a Minnesota farm, worked in IT in California's Silicon Valley, then moved to a coastal Ecuador fishing village. Emily's goal is to share Ecuador with you, one snippet at a time. Topics include attractions, compassion, ecotourism, Ecuador products, everyday Ecuador, and flora and fauna. Please let Emily know what you would like to read more about!

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