The Peruvian Booby is restricted to the waters of the Humboldt Current off the Pacific coast of Peru and Chile. It is the second most abundant seabird species that inhabits the Peruvian coast.
Peruvian boobies, like other seabirds in the area, rely on anchovies as a primary food source. But unlike the threatened Guanay cormorant, which shares breeding grounds and food stocks with other resident seabirds, the booby appears unaffected by the anchovy decline. Researchers have found that the key to the boobys’ resilience may be in its hunting style. They discovered that the cormorants use social cues to locate anchovies, whereas the boobies rely on personal experiences and memory to find the fish.
It appears that their methods of solitary and adaptive hunting have paid off. In the last 50 years, cormorant populations have fallen from around 21 million birds to about 2 million, whereas Peruvian boobies have remained relatively stable at 2 million birds. Perhaps it is the fall in cormorant numbers that has kept the population stable, or maybe it is their adaptive hunting style; either way, it seems the Peruvian bobbies are successfully riding out the boom and bust of the anchovy fishing industry.
© Istvan Kadar Photography