• Scientific Name: Sula leucogaster (Boddaert, 1783)
  • Polynesian Names: Kena (Tuamotu), karena, kariga (Mangareva), kena, kahio’a (Marquesas)
  • Order: Suliformes
  • Family: Sulidae
  • CategorySeabirds
  • Location: All tropical seas

Appearance and identification

29-31 inches. It is a large bird with a powerful beak, a slender body, long narrow wings and a wedge-shaped tail. The front and top of the body is brown, contrasting with the white belly and bottom of the wings and tail. The legs and beak are yellow. The base of the nose and chin are blue for the male and yellow-green for the female. The white areas of the adult are light brown for the juveniles. For the sub adults, these areas become brighter increasingly with age.

Videos

Voice

Characteristics

In all tropical seas, nests in five archipelagos of French Polynesia. We saw colonies in Acteon Group (Tuamotu), the Te Pari (Tahiti) and Hatuta’a and Mohotane (Marquesas).

It mainly nests in colonies but sometimes in isolation. Recurs throughout the year. Nests on the ground lays two green chalk eggs 64 x 46 mm. It has been studied outside French Polynesia. Incubates from 43 to 47 days. The young remain in the nest for 120 days. In French Polynesia, there seems to raise only one young.

Able to fish close to shore. Nests on islands or uninhabited islets in isolated places of inhabited islands. These areas are free of large terrestrial predators such as dogs or pigs.

« quin-quin-quin » for the female, gentle hissing in the nest for the male.

Fish (especially flying fish) and squid. It is able to plunge tens of meters deep, folded wings, to go catch a fish in the depths. It continues even underwater propelled with its legs and wings.

Location

In all tropical seas, nests in five archipelagos of French Polynesia. We saw colonies in Acteon Group (Tuamotu), the Te Pari (Tahiti) and Hatuta’a and Mohotane (Marquesas).

Breeding

It mainly nests in colonies but sometimes in isolation. Recurs throughout the year. Nests on the ground lays two green chalk eggs 64 x 46 mm. It has been studied outside French Polynesia. Incubates from 43 to 47 days. The young remain in the nest for 120 days. In French Polynesia, there seems to raise only one young.

Habitat

Able to fish close to shore. Nests on islands or uninhabited islets in isolated places of inhabited islands. These areas are free of large terrestrial predators such as dogs or pigs.

Voice

« quin-quin-quin » for the female, gentle hissing in the nest for the male.

Food

Fish (especially flying fish) and squid. It is able to plunge tens of meters deep, folded wings, to go catch a fish in the depths. It continues even underwater propelled with its legs and wings.

Status and protection

Common species in Polynesia.
The species is classified as “Least Concern” (LC) on the IUCN Red List but “Near Threatened” (NT) on the France and Polynesia 2015 Red List.

Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.