Avian Life Above Water

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The Global Reef Expedition surveys aim to document what is happening on our coral reefs below water level, but on transit to our dive sites and in between dives, it is hard not to notice the abundant sea birds that also depend on the ocean around the Tuamotu Islands.

Most commonly, the Calcutta is chased and sat on by brown boobies as the boat flushes flying fish to the surface, frigate (or robber) birds also hover menacingly above, waiting to steal their hard earned catch. Brown noddies, in partnership with small tuna, chase shoals of small fish around the harbour and near the reefs. Sooty terns delicately pluck their prey from the surface water, barely getting their faces wet!

A booby flies overhead
A booby flies overhead


These sea birds all depend on the ocean to feed and are affected by many of the same issues facing our coral reefs; variations in sea temperatures can affect their prey and therefore their feeding success and ability to raise chicks. With the abundant bird life around the islands, there seem to be plenty of sea birds around, but I am still waiting for a booby to sit on someone’s head!

Sea birds in a row: Brown noddies lined up on the pier in Fakarava
Sea birds in a row: Brown noddies lined up on the pier in Fakarava

(Photos by: 1 Serge Andrefouet, 2 Badi Samaniego)

If you liked this, you might also be interested in: A Day for the Birds, an article on seabirds from our Colombia mission.

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