**UPDATE: The red-footed booby was on the same vessel, High Spirits, again Wednesday. Click here to view some wonderful images and learn the booby’s nickname.
Whale watchers in California’s Monterey Bay on Tuesday happily made way for a red-footed booby as the rare seabird landed on the rail as if to become just another passenger.
“A juvenile red-footed booby landed on the boat today. So we took it whale watching,” Katlyn Taylor, a naturalist for Blue Ocean Whale Watch, wrote in her Facebook video description.
The passengers, giving the booby space, are perhaps more in awe of the exotic visitor than they are of the whales, which are common in Monterey Bay.
Red-footed boobies nest on tropical islands and atolls, so Monterey is far beyond their typical range.
Cummings told FTW Outdoors that she had encountered only one other red-footed booby in Monterey Bay, in 2018, before Tuesday’s encounter.
“It hitched a ride into Moss Landing Harbor on a fishing boat and died a few days later,” Cummings recalled. “But the booby we had [Tuesday] seemed healthy and active, as it was seen plunge-diving for anchovies, successfully, and was preening on our boat.”
Red-footed boobies, named because of the striking coloration of their feet, prey on fish and squid and hunt by flying slowly above the surface.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the seabirds are known to rest on ships as they hunt in open water.
The Lab’s website states: “Individuals may ride on a ship, or fly alongside it, and when flying fish take to the air in front of the vessel, the booby flies swiftly toward it, catching it in the bill. Red-footed boobies also congregate around actively feeding fish such as tuna, which drive small fish toward the surface.”
On Tuesday, the booby appeared to have benefited from whales dispersing massive schools of anchovies.