(Photo courtesy of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park)

The lone masked booby (Sula dactylatra) of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNF) finally found its “partner” after three years of waiting.

TRNF, in a bulletin issued Thursday, said that park rangers have spotted two masked boobies, instead of the usual solo individual, while conducting quarterly seabird monitoring on Bird Islet.

The masked boobies were reportedly seen hanging around the ‘plaza’—the unvegetated area in the middle of Bird Islet.

According to the rangers, it was the exact same spot the lone individual used to occupy in his previous visits to the islet.

Marine park rangers first reported the arrival of the lone masked booby at the Bird Islet of TRNF in May 2016. The species had been previously declared as locally extirpated in the Philippines since its disappearance from the island in 1996.

Tubbataha’s avifauna consultant Arne Jensen, in the same statement, said it is difficult to tell the male from the female in masked boobies.

“Even if the two turn out to be a breeding pair, it is no guarantee that they will breed successfully this year. Still, two are better than one, and we can only hope that their appearance is a sign of better things yet to come,” Jensen said.

Wildlife conservationists can only hope at this point, but they remain positive that the masked boobies will soon be seen again in multitude.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.