Thanks to a few dedicate researchers working together have rediscovered the Masked Booby, Sula dactylatra. It is a large seabird of the gannet family, Sulidae. This species breeds on islands in tropical oceans, except in the eastern Atlantic; in the eastern Pacific. This is the largest booby, at 81-91 cm long, and with a 152 cm wingspan and 1500 g weight. Adults are white with pointed black wings, a pointed black tail, and a dark grey face mask. The sexes are similar, but the male has a yellow bill, and the female’s is greenish yellow; during the breeding season they have a patch of bare, bluish skin at the base of the bill. Juveniles are brownish on the head and upper parts, with a whitish rump and neck collar. The underparts are white.
The Masked Booby is silent at sea, but has a reedy whistling greeting call at the nesting colonies. While on the breeding grounds, these birds display a wide range of hissing and quacking notes.
Masked Boobies are spectacular divers, plunging diagonally into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat small fish, including flying fish. This is a fairly sedentary bird, wintering at sea, but rarely seen far away from the breeding colonies. However, Caribbean birds occasionally wander north to warm southern Gulf Stream waters off the eastern seaboard of the United States. More remarkably, there have been three Western Palaearctic records of Masked Booby, presumably dactylatra, all from Spanish waters, although one of these also entered French territorial areas.
Thought extinct; researchers had long suspected that the “extinct” Tasman booby and the living masked booby of the North Tasman Sea were closely related. So researchers compared fossilized and modern bones and DNA from specimens identified as Tasman and masked boobies.
Physically, the fossil bones looked strikingly similar to their modern counterparts and after some DNA analysis -a perfect correlations was found between extinct Tasman booby and the Masked booby of today.
Welcome back or should we just say hello and glad to meet ya, Mr.Booby.
Excerpts courtesy of En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masked_Booby
Excerpts courtesy of News.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/08/090811-extinct-booby-masked.html
Images courtesy of Upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/Masked_booby_with_chick.JPG