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Nazca Booby

Nazca Booby

The masked seabird of Galápagos

What you need to know about the Nazca Booby

Also known as the Masked Booby thanks to its distinctive head markings, the Nazca Booby is a well-established Galápagos resident, with the islands being home to approximately 15,000 to 20,000 breeding pairs. The Nazca is the largest of the three booby species that call the Galápagos home, and it looks rather different from it’s more well-known, colored-footed cousins.

Nazca Boobies can be found nesting on several of the Galápagos Islands, but interestingly they stagger their breeding seasons depending on which island they live on. Eggs are typically laid on Genovesa Island between August and November, but that period runs from November to February on Española Island, for example. Galápagos Nazca Boobies aren’t very house proud, though. Their “nests” consist simply of a cleared circular piece of ground lined with their own guano!

Rather grimly, the Nazca Booby chicks are well known for killing their nest mates! The females always lay two eggs, but rather than together, they are laid up to 9 days apart. If the second egg hatches, the older chick always forces the new hatchling out of the nest circle, where it is then ignored by the parents and dies of starvation, cold, or predation. Scientists think the Nazca’s continue to expend the energy needed to lay a second egg despite the fact that it is always condemned to death because it’s an “insurance policy” against the first egg not hatching, or the first chick dying in the first few days of life.

Nazca Booby: Interesting facts

Nazca Boobies don't make much effort with their nests - just a scrape in the ground surrounded by a few pebbles

First-born Nazca Booby chicks will always murder their younger siblings!

Galápagos is home to the largest breeding colonies of Nazca Boobies in the world

Nazca Boobies aren't currently threatened, but they are vulnerable to being caught in fishing gear

Nazca Booby: Pictures from our travelers

Nazca Booby
Nazca Booby
Nazca Booby

Spots where the Nazca 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.

Our trips to spot the Nazca Booby

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