Ascension – Island of boobies
A booby is a seabird in the genus Sula, part of the Sulidae family. Boobies are closely related to the gannets (Morus), which were formerly included in Sula.
Their name was possibly based on the Spanish slang term bubie, meaning “dunce“, as these tame birds had a habit of landing on board sailing ships, where they were easily captured and eaten. Owing to this, boobies are often mentioned as having been caught and eaten by shipwrecked sailors, notably William Bligh of the Bounty and his adherents, during their famous voyage after being set adrift by Fletcher Christian and his followers.
Ascension Island was formerly home to large seabird colonies, but the introduction of cats in the 1800s led to rapid population declines. Relict populations survived on inaccessible cliff ledges and offshore stacks, the largest of which is Boatswainbird Island.
In 2001 a feral cat eradication programme was initiated and the last known feral cat was removed from the mainland in March 2004. Seabird recolonisation of the mainland was first recorded in May 2002 and numbers have increased steadily since. Most species have occupied main island sites immediately adjacent to existing colonies, although Masked Boobies exhibit a higher degree of dispersal.
The species that have recolonised are those that previous work suggested were most stressed for breeding space: Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) Brown Booby (S. leucogaster), Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus) and White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus), but to date there is no evidence of the endemic Ascension Frigatebird (Fregata aquila) recolonisation. Overall breeding success was relatively low compared to estimates elsewhere in each species range.
—Seabird Restoration Project (RSPB funded)
Boobies are a group of seabirds known for their mating displays. Brown (Sula leucogaster), Red-footed (S. sula) and Blue-footed Boobies (S. nebouxii) have at least nine described parts to their mating display.
Sky pointing in boobies is similar to albatrosses; in the Brown Booby, sky pointing is described as a display where the male throws his head backwards, stretches his neck out, and usually gives a whistling vocalization.
Parading is a well-known display in boobies as well; in this display, one individual in the pair – usually the male – walks upright, with his tail erect, swaying in an exaggerated manner from side to side while taking small steps. In Blue-footed and Red-footed Boobies, parading also includes lifting their brightly colored feet to flaunt to their partner.
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) from the coast of Africa and 2,250 kilometres (1,400 mi) from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa. It is governed as part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, of which the main island, Saint Helena, is around 1,300 kilometres (800 mi) to the southeast, and the territory also includes the “remotest populated archipelago” on earth, the sparsely populated Tristan da Cunha archipelago some thirty degrees farther south–about half the way to the Antarctic Circle, where you can find the most remote village in the world, or the most remote permanent settlement in the world, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.
Ascension Island hosts one of five ground antennae (others are on Kwajalein Island, Diego Garcia, Colorado Springs and Hawaii) that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigational system.
The Island also boasts what was once officially the worst golf course in the world. That course, on the outskirts of Georgetown has since been replaced with a similar one located between the settlements of Two Boats village and Georgetown, the course has 18 holes and the greens are in fact ‘browns‘, a reference to the sand and oil mix used to make them. The rest of the course is made up of volcanic ash and rocks.
During the Falklands War, Wideawake was the busiest airfield in the world for a short period.
- ARKive :: Blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii) (trushin.wordpress.com)
- North Seymour & Blue-Footed Boobies – Galapagos, Ecuador (travelpod.com)
- “We belong in international cricket”: St Helena (dawn.com)
- St Helena opens up to world trade (newstatesman.com)