Boobies of the South Pacific
You might think it’s easy to spot Boobies seemingly everywhere along Ecuador’s sun- drenched Pacific beaches and offshore isles, right?! Well, Boobies can be elusive and believe it or not, they’re not as plentiful as they once were. Seems that they’ve enjoyed so much viewing popularity along the way that it’s impacted their numbers. Undaunted and determined to see the Boobies of the South Pacific, I eased off the back of the 32-foot Hatteras into knee deep water and began wading ashore. Gulls greeted me with their raucous calls as red crabs scurried across the fine white sand, diving for cover in their tiny subterranean caves.
It was late September, several years ago, and Edie and I were playing along Ecuador’s Pacific coast. Most of the whales were long gone from the area since the Humboldt Current had seasonally changed it’s course. We were exploring some islands via private charter, about 20 miles offshore, doing some hiking and photography. In the shallow cove, blue-green waters lapped at the tiny sand beach making a similar sound, but louder, like a cat lapping milk from a saucer. It was hot at sea level, very different from the cool temperatures of the Andes Mountains I call my home. Sweat stung my right eye, originating from my perspiration-soaked bandana. My Keens kicked up mini dust clouds along the dry trail. Hmmm, lot’s of hiking, lot’s of heat, no Boobies. I trudged on but mentally, my glimmers of hope for a sighting dimmed. At this point, I would settle for only one pair of those hard to spot Boobies
Suddenly, Edie shouted to me with a tone of high excitement in her voice, “Boobies! Boobies! Look Honey, look! Look at the Boobies!” Well, I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and when my lovely wife announced there were Boobies near by and I should see them, my heart sped up. I kicked up more dust clouds, much bigger ones, rushing toward the promise of sighting some Boobies! There they were in their magnificence; I couldn’t get my camera up fast enough! I knelt to steady myself as I framed the Boobies. At the last moment, it struck me that a portrait composition of a single Booby was going to be the most compelling.
Not wanting to miss the decisive moment, my cameras shutter was set at high speed capturing 12 frames per second. I pressed the button and the camera fired with authority forever preserving one Booby image after another. In the end, as I have written, the portrait view, though of a single Booby and omitting the famous blue feet, is my favorite. What a look of surprise was cast when Booby met man and man met Booby. It was a special moment indeed. Yeah, yeah, I know; you’ve got some Booby pictures yourself and you like them better than mine. With all due respect, I submit that the single portrait view with a landscape orientation will remain the most successful manner in which to show those slippery South Pacific Boobies!