Rare seabird washed ashore in East Sussex

Red-footed boobies are seabirds that inhabit the tropical and subtropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, so it was certainly an odd sight to see such a bird thousands of miles away on a beach in East Sussex earlier this week.

Currently in the care of the local RSPCA, the magnificent bird was spotted by a member of the public after being washed ashore. Easily caught and rescued by the East Sussex Wildlife and Rescue Service (WRAS), the animal was reported to be in poor condition and in an “exhausted state”.

Related to gannets, the rescued bird is thought to be a juvenile and will be in specialist care with the hope to release back into the wild in the Galapagos Islands. Red-footed boobies are not known to migrate but live year-round in tropical climates, so how or why it made this journey is unclear. Trevor Weeks, the founder of the East Sussex WRAS, said it “may have hitchhiked to the UK after landing on a ship at sea”.

According to National Geographic these birds feed at sea and nest on land, with the biggest threats to their population numbers being the fishing industry and coastal development.

Rescued red-footed booby, credit: East Sussex WRAS

Rescued red-footed booby, credit: East Sussex Wildlife & Rescue Service

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