Blame Tropical Storm Jose for blowing a Masked Booby (a tropical seabird) from its Gulf of Mexico stomping grounds all the way north to Massachusetts.
The Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) is the largest of the six species of booby in the genus Sula. They spend much of their lives at sea feeding on fish and resting on the ocean surface but take to small islands in the Caribbean to breed. The Caribbean, as we all know, has been rather stirred up this summer and at least one Masked Booby was stirred (and shaken) as well... all the way to Wellfleet, Massachusetts.
A local woman espied the tropical bird on Tuesday, September 26th at LeCount Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, and brought it to Wild Care Cape Cod. "The bird is very thin, weak and is experiencing respiratory discomfort likely due to a fungal infection,” stated Wild Care executive director Stephanie Ellis in an interview with the Cape Cod Times. “The bird's condition is grave, but we are providing supportive care and keeping it comfortable at this time.”
According to Mark Faherty, Wildlife Sanctuary Science Coordinator at Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay, the injured seabird is the first Masked Booby ever found in Massachusetts. The nearest one of these birds has ever been sighted previously was in 2015, about 100 miles south of Nantucket. “Never has one been on Massachusetts' soil,” stressed Faherty. “This is a bird that would be hard to see in the Florida Keys.”
The real, spectacular but still weak booby appears to be making progress under the care of Wild Care Cape Cod staff, added Faherty. The rescue center is not open to the public but interested parties are encouraged to follow the bird's progress at the center's Facebook page.