The Abbott's Booby (Papasula abbotti) is a large endangered seabird of the gannet family, Sulidae. Found normally only on and around Christmas Island (an Australian territory in the eastern Indian Ocean), it is the sole member of the genus Papasula. This species is named for William Louis Abbott who discovered it on Assumption Island in 1892.
The Abbott's Booby has a length of about 79 centimetres and a weight of about 1460 grams. Its black and white plumage is distinct from that of other sulids in the region. Parent birds may only be able to breed from about eight years old, with successful breeding no more frequently than once every two years, and a potential lifespan of 40 years.
Distribution and habitat
The Abbott's Booby now breeds only on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean, although formerly it bred on other Indian Ocean islands. At sea it is mainly seen in the waters around Christmas Island. There is fossil evidence of its presence in the South Pacific. In April 2007 an individual of this species was photographed at a booby colony on Rota in the Pacific Ocean .
The species nests in emergent trees in rainforest, with pairs laying a single egg, mainly in June or July. Growth of the chick is slow, with most making their first flight in December or January, and remaining dependent on the parent birds for food for about the next 230 days.
Adult birds feed on fish and squid and feed the chicks by regurgitation.
Much of the breeding habitat of the Abbott's Booby was destroyed by phosphate mining in the 1960s and 1970s and it is classified as Endangered. The population is estimated to be about 3000 birds and decreasing. On Christmas Island, threats include cyclones, degradation of breeding habitat and Yellow Crazy Ants. Offshore potential threats are overfishing and marine pollution.