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Blue-footed Boobies: Some of the Best Divers in the Galapagos

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Blue-footed Booby diving.

Blue-footed boobies diving in the Galapagos is seriously exciting. These magnificent creatures are capable of plunging into the water from heights of up to 328 ft (about 100 m). When in pursuit of their prey they can dive as deep as 82 ft (25 m)! In this blog, we invite you to learn about the magical mechanism in their bodies that allows them to do it!

Punta Pitt landscape.

A great place to view blue-footed boobies diving in Galapagos is at Punta Pitt (visited along our Eastern Galapagos itinerary).

Blue-footed Boobies Diving in the Galapagos: How do they do it?

Blue-footed boobies’ diet primarily consists of fish. This means guests might even be lucky enough to spot them fishing near the Santa Cruz II Cruise, in addition to seeing them ambling around on a number of islands. They tend to focus on large schools of small fish, such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and even flying fish.

Blue-footed Booby getting food

The exact moment before a blue-footed booby breaks through the surface of the water in pursuit of a fish

These beautiful birds are impressively skillful and fast! Just before they hit the water, they achieve speeds of up to 60 mph (97 kmph); a feat that is truly fascinating to witness. When blue-footed boobies hunt, they do so either individually, in pairs, or as part of a large flock. Lead birds serve as “spotters”, signaling to their companions that they have located a considerable group of fish in the water. With this signal, they dive down together towards the specific spot in the water. Their form and speed as they descend upon the water are reminiscent of a volley of arrows.

To help soften the blow as they dive from great heights and break through the surface at such high speeds, blue-footed boobies have developed special air sacs situated within their skulls that help to protect their brains from the impact and enormous pressure resulting from the dive. Should they be successful in catching something underwater, the blue-footed will devour its prey underwater, before breaching the surface.

An interesting distinction worth noting between male and female blue-footed boobies is the fact that males are smaller in size but have larger tails, allowing them to fish in both shallow areas and deep water. Females, on the other hand, have a larger body size that allows them to carry more food in a single period (for their young, typically).

Witnessing blue-footed boobies diving in the Galapagos is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to seeing these birds display some mesmerizing and unique behavior in the bird kingdom. They often wave their iconic blue-feet while performing their charming courtship displays. Visitors have a great chance to catch this phenomenon when they visit the archipelago. Make sure to make the blue-footed booby in Galapagos a part of your visit so you can check it off your BIG15 list of iconic species in the Galapagos!