BOOBIES ON GALÁPAGOS
On one of the many remote volcanic rock islands making up the Archipiélago de Galápagos along the equator about six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, Dooley and Carl, two mature male blue-footed boobies walked along the beach with waves crashing just a few yards away.
Dooley asked, “Don’t you ever get tired of just being a boobie, Carl?”
Carl waited a moment while he formulated his answer. Finally, he shook his head, “Never,” he exclaimed. He used his wings to gesture grandly encompassing his surroundings, “Clear skies as far as the eye can see and an ocean full of fish. I want for nothing.” Looking at Dooley quizzically, he asked, “Why do you ask?”
Embarrassed, Dooley shrugged. “It just seems like nothing exciting ever happens.”
“We’ve had some pretty challenging storms pass through,” Carl responded.
“Yeah,” agreed Dooley without enthusiasm. “Storms.”
They walked in silence for nearly a minute before Dooley stopped and looked out toward the horizon. “Since I was a chick, I’ve been told all sorts of stories of the sea. Adventures. Real heroes, y’know? I’ve probably heard them all.”
Carl stopped and looked back at Dooley, “But all you ever see is the same sky, the same water.”
“Exactly,” Dooley agreed.
“Funny,” Carl observed. “I’ve never seen you as the adventuresome type.”
Slightly embarrassed, Dooley retorted, “I mean, I love Andie and the kids and hanging out with my brother and all, but it seems like there should be more.”
“Be careful what you wish for,” Carl warned. “Most boobies are just happy being boobies.”
Dooley nodded in agreement, but he wasn’t convinced. Deep down, he felt like he was destined for more than eating fish and flying over the same piece of ocean day after day.
“Life’s what you make of it, my friend,” Carl announced as he started waddling toward the water.
“I was hoping for more than clichés,” Dooley thought to himself, disappointed that he had brought up the subject in the first place.
“Well, I’d best be going,” Carl called at the edge of the water. “Happy hunting.”
Dooley forced a smile. “Sure thing. And thanks for listening, Carl.”
“It’s what I do,” Carl said as he started an awkward take-off.
Dooley watched for a moment, then turned and started walking through the rocks just off the beach.
In a rocky crevice several yards inland from the shore, Andie, Dooley’s mate, and their offspring, Haley and Conley watched as Dooley climbed gawkily through the jagged rocks to join them.
As soon as Dooley reached his little family, Conley blurted out, “Dad! Mom says I can’t go hunting with you.”
“Gotta obey your mother, Son,” Dooley responded with a smile. “If she says you’re not ready, it’s good enough for me.”
“But, Dad,” complained a disappointed Conley.
Before the eager young boobie could start on his well rehearsed argument, Haley gestured to the sky and shouted, “Hit the dirt! Here comes Uncle Talli!”
All four boobies dove to the sand as Talli streaked in low off the ground in preparation for a spectacularly clumsy landing.
On solid ground finally, Talli wiped his brow. “Whew! Cheated death again.” He walked back toward the others.
Dooley shook his head, “Smooth, Bro.”
“Our dad always said, any landing you can walk away from is a good one.”
Conley looked up at his uncle. “Hey, Uncle Talli, I can go huntin’ with you an’ dad, right?”
“Fine with . . .” Talli started to respond, only to be cut off by Andie’s firm, “No.”
Talli looked from Andie (determined) to Conley (hopeful) to Dooley, who shrugged a silent, “You’re on your own.”
“I guess you’re not quite ready yet, kid,” Talli finally answered. He looked toward Andie to see if she was happy with his response.
“Awwww,” Conley responded with disappointment.
Andie turned to Dooley. “You boys should get moving if you want to hunt with the rest of the trap.”
Appreciating the way she quickly changed the subject, Dooley observed, “That’s a very slick way to keep us focused, Andie.” He turned to Talli, “Let’s fly.”
Talli hesitated a moment, then indicated the sky over his shoulder. “By the way, ol’ Mooch is patrolling,” he announced reluctantly. “He got my breakfast.”
The news wasn’t well received. Andie reacted angrily, “That frustrating, fish-filching frigatebird is not getting our food!”
Seeing that Conley and Haley were getting upset, Dooley chuckled confidently, “Everyone relax. He has to catch us first.”
“But before that ever happens, we have to catch some fish.
Circling high above the island, Mooch kept his eyes open for Dooley and Talli to take to the sky. “I love boobies,” he thought to himself. “They make my life so tasty.”
On the beach, Dooley and Talli were inelegantly waddling to the edge of a rock. They launched themselves gracelessly into a take-off.
Andie, Conley, and Haley perched on a rock and watched the boobie brothers take flight.