Abbott's Gannet

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Abbott’s Booby
juvenile on Christmas Island
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Suliformes
Genus: {{{1}}}
Olson & Warheit, 1988
Species: P. abbottii
Binomial name
Papasula abbottii
(Ridgway, 1893)

Sula abbotti (Ridgway, 1893)

Abbott’s Booby or Abbott's Gannet (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 living member of the monotypic genus Papasula. This species is named for William Louis Abbott who discovered it on Assumption Island in 1892.

Other names[edit]

Older name: Abbott's Booby.


Abbott’s Booby has a length of about 79 cm and a weight of about 1460 grams. Its black and white plumage distinguishes it 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.[2]

Similar species[edit]

Masked Gannet has more white on its wings [3]



Adult birds feed on fish and squid and feed the chicks by regurgitation.[2]



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.[2][4]


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 former presence in the South Pacific, and eyewitness reports of it formerly breeding on the Mascarene Islands. In April 2007, an individual of this species was photographed at a booby colony on Rota in the Pacific Ocean.[5]


Much of the breeding habitat of the Abbott’s Booby was destroyed by phosphate mining in the 1960s and 1970s[6] 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.[7][8]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2006). Papasula abbotti. In: IUCN 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 8 Aug 2011. Database entry includes a range map and justification for why the species is listed as endangered
  2. ^ a b c Marchant, S.; & Higgins, P.J. (Eds). (1990). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 1: Ratites to Ducks. Oxford University Press: Melbourne. ISBN 0-19-553068-3
  3. ^ Simpson & Day (1999). A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, 6th Edition. Penguin. ISBN 0-691-04995-5.
  4. ^ Nelson, J. Bryan. (1978). The Sulidae. Gannets and Boobies. Oxford University Press: Oxford. ISBN 0-19-714104-8
  5. ^ Pratt, H. Douglas; Retter, Michael L. P.; Chapman, Douglas; Ord, W. Michael; Pisano, Paul (2009). Bulletin of the British Ornithological Club (PDF). 129 (2): 87–91 Retrieved 1 March 2011. {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Nelson JB (1977) report and recommendations on the status and prospects of Abbott's Booby in relation to the British Phosphate Commissioner's mining and conservation policy. Unpublished report. British Phosphate Commission
  7. ^ Garnett, S. (1993) Threatened and Extinct Birds Of Australia. RAOU. National Library, Canberra. ISSN 0812-8014
  8. ^ BirdLife International (2006) Species factsheet: Papasula abbotti. Downloaded from on 17 October 2006


External links[edit]



File:Paw 1.png This article is part of Project Aves, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird, including made-up species.
File:Suliformes diversity.png This article is part of Project Suliformes, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each suliform, including made-up species.
This article is part of Project Sulidae, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each gannet, including made-up species.
This article is part of Project Bird Genera, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each genus, including made-up genera.
File:Juvenile kagu.png This article is part of Project Monotypic Genera, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each monotypic genera, including made-up species.
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