The charismatic “booby,” an icon of the Riviera Nayarit

Blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxli) might not the most elegant name, but it’s the right one for this charming bird also known in Spanish as the pájaro bobo de patas azules, one of the most admired species by birdwatchers who come to the Riviera Nayarit.

It’s called a “booby” because of its vague look and stumbling walk while on land, but the birds are in their element in the water: they’re excellent swimmers and even better fishers—they’re really not boobs at all!

A few years ago, there was a myth swirling around that these unique blue-footed birds could only be found in the Galapagos Islands—a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean across from the coast of Ecuador—, but the truth is they’re found all along a stretch of the American Pacific.

In Mexico, for example, they have chosen the coast of Nayarit to live and reproduce, specifically the Marietas Islands National Park and the Isabel Islands National Park, as well as other islets in the state of Nayarit that have become a sanctuary for the species. They mate there, have their chicks, and co-exist with the Sula leucogaster—the brown-footed booby—and another 90 bird species, including the frigate and the Mexican seagull (Larus heermanni).

Research biologists say the blue-footed booby measures between 30 and 85 centimeters, with a white body and a dark mottled back; its wings are long and dark; its tail is pointed, and its beak is long and sharp. Of course, its large blue webbed feet stand out and it shows them off in wide strides during its courtship to conquer its mate. The bird with the bluest legs is the most attractive.

Another of its characteristics is that it feeds in a spectacular manner: when fishing, they rise up to mid-height watching keenly for the slightest flutter of a fin; once it locates its prey it dives several meters deep to catch it, reaching speeds of up to 96 km/hour.

Research shows the blue-footed booby is not only attractive, but also very useful in the ecosystem because it is a “bioindicator” species, that is, it reflects both the condition of the ocean and marine productivity by modifying its diet and the growth rate of its chicks according to the availability of food (MacCall, 1982; Ricklefs et al. 1984; and Jahncke and Goya, 2000).

For this and so much more, the blue-footed booby is an important component of the Luxury and Nature the Riviera Nayarit offers its visitors.

For your next trip to this tourist destination, book a tour to the Marietas Island National Park. Once you’re there, keep an eye out to see the birds resting calmly on the rocks or, if you’re lucky, engaging their extraordinary fishing abilities.

We remind you that the Marietas Islands National Park was named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2008. You only have to discover it to know that not only is it a treasure of the Riviera Nayarit, but the world, and must be preserved intact.

When the COVID-19 health crisis is over, Mexico’s Pacific Treasure will be waiting for you. Meanwhile: #AtHomeWithRivieraNayarit

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