Mona Liza wanted a post about our unexpected four days cruising the Coral Sea, two on our way to Noumea, New Caledonia and two back to Australia. They were her favorite sea days so far because the ocean was almost mirror-smooth with calm winds – perfect! They were also the days when we saw a lot of things flying around.
Robin Petch, a Viking guest wildlife lecturer, conducts wildlife watches every day we are at sea. He gives scheduled and spontaneous lectures about the sightings of any birds or mammals we see along the way, and he also documents them for wildlife study groups:
One afternoon Mr Petch counted about 40 Red-footed Boobies riding the air currents around the front of the ship as they swooped down to catch flying fish. With the ocean being so smooth, we went down to deck 2 for a front-row show – birdies vs. flying fish!
Once again, ML kicked herself for not having her super-zoom lens, but I think it would have been more difficult to get good pictures with it because of all the action. We’d never seen flying fish before, and it was amazing to watch the birds doing strafing runs after them as the fish popped out of the water and glided along to get away from the ship:
Flying fish don’t actually fly – they come out of the water at high speed and use their large pectoral fins to help them glide up to several hundred feet at speeds up to 40mph:
The Red-footed booby is a large seabird of the booby family, Sulidae. Adults always have red feet, but the color of the plumage varies. They’re powerful and agile fliers, but clumsy during takeoffs and landings. Found widely in the tropics, they are uncommon in the mainland U.S.
That evening we found them roosting all around the top of the ship. The crew wasn’t very happy about the mess they had to clean up the next morning!
And another day has ended beautifully!