Masked Booba is a protected species that is living in the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and World Heritage Site, located in Cagayancillo, Palawan. This sea bird belongs to the Sulidae Family.
In 1911, masked booby were seen flying on the area but there was no stable information for them yet. It was believed then that their population was significantly sloped. In 1981, Ornithologist Robert Kennedy found 150 adults at the world-renowned park. After 8 years, there were only 30 recorded. Later, in the year of 1995, only one sea bird was captured by a photograph and in 1996 it was believed to be completely gone but was secretly reproducing in some areas. Because of these piled events, it was believed that the species had already disappeared.
The Park rangers were saddened by the sudden death of the juvenile masked booba, they said that only a few months more and it’s ready to fly on it’s own. A mature masked booba was first seen by the patrol rangers stepping on the dead body and they were horrified when they found out it was one of the sea birds.
The masked booba (Sula dactylatra) belongs to the family Sulidae, one of the six species of booba. The other species of these birds were the Red-footed booby (Sula-sula), Brown booby (Sula leucogaster), Nazca booby (Sula granti), Blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii) and Peruvian booby (Sula variegata) .They are also called as blue-faced booby and masked gannet. The International Ornithologists Union (IOC) has given an official common name which was the masked booby.
This masked booba is the largest bird species. It can grow up to 75–85 cm (30–33 in) long. They have a long and pointed yellow beak, black tail and a dark face mask, bright white with black wings, long slender wings and pointed tail, long neck, aerodynamic body, and a typical solid body shape on the adults. They were nesting on colonies, on islands and atolls that are near on deep water and far away from the mainlands.
The Tubbataha Management Office released a statement on January 21, 2021 saying that: “Our hopes to reestablish the Masked Booby population in Tubbataha are once again dashed—a sad turn of events
The park rangers patrol in some areas to ensure the safety of the growing population of the endangered seabirds to illegal fishing and other things that could damage and affect the living around the protected reef . They are also observing nature and the adaption of the masked booby towards the environment.
This is the only breeding place of the masked booby throughout the Philippines and just recently found out in October 2020 which was believed to be extinct in the past 20 years. Gladly, there were few who survived and the rangers in Tubbataha Park hoped that this bird will ontinue to grow in years.