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Blue-Footed Booby

Blue-Footed Booby

Famous blue-legged resident of the islands

What you need to know about the Blue-Footed Booby

Galapatours clients tell us that the Galápagos Blue-Footed Booby is one of their favorite wildlife encounters from the islands. And once you watch the males’ remarkable mating dance we’re sure they will be your favorite, too!

The Galápagos currently has around 20,000 breeding pairs of Blue-Footed Booby and they are permanently resident. They breed throughout the year, and because they nest on the ground they are easy to see, and even to get close to on a land excursion from one of our Galápagos cruises.

The Blue-Footed Booby has a somewhat comical look on land, but that’s because they are a seabird, and when you see them fold their wings and plummet like a torpedo into the sea you will see them at their most powerful and graceful. On land, those big blue “paddles” always seem like they get in way a little - hence the bird’s name which is derived from the English word booby, meaning “foolish” or “clown”!

Unfortunately for the booby, they perhaps look their most “foolish” during their famous courtship dance, which is focused on the bright blue feet of the males. Because the females are impressed by the males with the bluest feet, the boys parade around their chosen nest site, lifting their feet high into the air. After presenting the female with his choice of nest materials, he spreads his wings wide and stretches his beak to the sky, whistling. The dance is then completed with another proud circuit of high leg lifts.

The question that our expert naturalist guides are asked most about these delightful creatures is “what makes their feet blue?”. In fact it gets asked so often, we even put the question into our online FAQ here! Rather like the feather color of flamingos, the source is from the diet. In the blue-footed boohies it’s from pigments called carotenoids, which come from the fish they eat. Scientists have also shown that the feet become an even brighter blue the healthier the bird is. So by choosing a mate with the bluest feet, the females are selecting well nourished and healthy partners!

Blue-Footed Booby: Interesting facts

The name Booby is from the Spanish bobo - meaning clown or fool!

The blue color of their feet comes from compounds in their diet - the better nourished the booby, the bluer the feet

Over 50% of the world's population of Blue-Footed Boobies call Galápagos their home

Male and female Blue-Footed boobies are almost completely identical, with the only difference being that females are a little bigger and has larger pupils

Blue-Footed Booby: Pictures from our travelers

Blue-Footed Booby
Blue-Footed Booby
Blue-Footed Booby

Spots where the Blue-Footed Booby can be observed

A walk on Bartholomew
A walk on Bartholomew

Bartholomew (known as Bartolomé locally) is the most popular excursion for Galápagos visitors, and its iconic scenery is the most photographed in the whole archipelago.

To start your walk on this island you will land in the small bay opposite the famous Pinnacle Rock. You then start the climb to the 375ft peak of Bartholomew. You’ll travel along a half mile trail that includes a series of wooden steps that have been built by the National Park Service to protect the ground here from erosion caused by tourists hiking to the summit.

When you arrive at the top of island the spectacular views will have made your efforts worthwhile. Your Galapatours expert guide will point out all the landmarks you will see from here - Pinnacle Rock itself, jutting skywards. The huge black lava flows of Sullivan Bay. The islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

On the way back down, you will be able to recognise the different volcanic formations evident on the island, such as tuff cones and volcanic spatter. You'll also see some remarkable examples of the Galápagos' ability to highlight the adaptation of species. For example the  bushes that all look dead are actually very much alive, with leaves covered with special grey hairs that help to reflect the harsh sun and reduce moisture loss for the plants.

Back at the beach there is excellent snorkeling, thanks to the underwater caves and rocks in the area. You will see various sharks, rays and tropical fish. You may also see Galápagos Penguins swimming with you!

Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat

Chinese Hat ("Sombrero Chino" to locals) is an islet set just a short distance off the southeastern coast of Santiago. The small channel between Chinese Hat and mainland Santiago is fairly deep yet sheltered, and the water here is a glistening turquoise.

The islet gets its name because if you approach from the north, you will see that this small volcanic cone does indeed look like the traditional bamboo or rice hat. Viewed from above on a satellite image, however, you will see that this islet is actually more of an oval shape.

There is a short hiking trail on Chinese Hat that runs along the western coast of the islet. This is a harsh landscape of volcanic rubble and lava formations, a very atmospheric reminder of the fiery origins of the Galápagos.

Along the cost of both Chinese Hat and the opposite Santiago shore you are likely to see Galápagos Sea Lions and Galápagos Penguins, either basking in the sun or seeking shade to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Overhead, you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent Galápagos Hawk.

The stand-out reason for a visit to Chinese Hat however is to snorkel in that turquoise channel. Here you can see various species of sharks, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. Not all Galápagos boats can visit, and permits are only given to a select few boats and guides. Here at Galapatours we offer itineraries on all of these specially selected boats, so if a visit to Chinese Hat is important to you, speak to one of our Galápagos experts today to help choose the perfect itinerary.

A walk on North Seymour
North Seymour

The island is named after an English nobleman, Lord Hugh Seymour and has an area of 1.9 square kilometers and a maximum altitude of 28 meters. This island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls and hosts one of the largest populations of frigatebirds. North Seymour has a visitor trail approximately 1.2 mi in length crossing the inland of the island and exploring the rocky coast.

North Seymour was formed at the same time as neighboring Baltra Island, and by the same process - an uplifting of undersea lava. This small, flat island has hiking trails throughout, allowing you to explore the arid landscape and to meet the seabirds that call North Seymour home.

North Seymour was the site of one of the earliest conservation experiments in the Galápagos. In 1934 a group of Galápagos Land Iguanas were moved there by Captain Hanckock. They have since thrivedthrived, and there are now well over 2,500 of them on the island and more than 3,000 on the neighbouring Baltra island.

The biggest attraction of North Seymour is its large colony of Blue-Footed Boobies and its Frigatebirds. These popular Galápagos species are often found together because the Frigatebirds rely on the Boobies’ fishing prowess. The Frigatebirds actively steal the Boobies catch to feed themselves!

There is also a population of Marine Iguanas and Galápagos Sea Lions are frequently spotted. The snorkeling here is also very good, with plenty of marine life to see including rays and reef sharks.

Our trips to spot the Blue-Footed Booby

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