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218. A breeding couple of White Terns (Gygis alba)


The White Tern (Gigs alba) is a relatively small seabird that inhabits coral islands in the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic regions.

The White Tern is, in many respects, a peculiar bird; here's why:

Although its range is circumtropical, it is very selective in choosing nesting islands. In Mauritius, it is only found on two tiny lagoon islands on Rodrigues, namely Île aux Sables and Île Cocos (Rodrigues is a remote island that belongs to the Republic of Mauritius. It lies about 560 km/350 mi east of Mauritius in the middle of the Indian Ocean and geographically belongs to the Mascareignes).

During the breeding season, it ventures into the wooded and bushy areas of the coral islands to mate and lay their single speckled egg. Unlike most bird species that build nests, the White Tern lays its egg on bare Y-shaped branches of trees or on coastal rocks with a depression large enough to hold an egg. The newborn chicks have well-developed feet necessary to grasp the bare branches, twigs, or rocks, making the "nesting" site very hazardous for the juveniles.

These birds are also known to have a relatively long lifespan for a bird. Some individuals can live longer than forty years. Nesting pairs often stay together for several years and typically return to the same island to breed.

These true ocean voyagers feed on small fish, squid, and sometimes small crustaceans caught at the surface or just below it by diving from a certain altitude, where the bird hovers until it finds suitable prey. After a successful hunt, it returns to its nesting site often carrying several caught fishes in its bill to feed the young.


Marine wildlife filmmaking and documentary making involve much more than underwater videography. Besides the vast majority of underwater images used in our video clips and documentaries, we have also utilised out-of-the-water video footage. Filming fiddler crabs on mud flats, drone images of sperm whales and dolphins, capturing images of rockskippers jumping from one rock to another, and so on.

Seabirds are just another marine wildlife animal that fits into the list of non-submerged animals. Filming seabirds in flight is very challenging; the speed these animals have makes it tough to keep them in the center of your viewfinder. It is, of course, much easier to film these aquatic birds sitting on a branch, as I did in this short video clip. Filming close to shore presents another challenge: sound. Incoming waves, blowing wind, rattling trees (due to that wind), and sometimes the sound of people talking result in very noisy footage. The sounds captured in the recording are so overwhelming that they create a real cacophony, rendering the footage unusable in the final product. To address this issue, it is much better and easier (trying to alter sound in video is incredibly difficult) to replace the original sounds with ambient beach and shoreline sounds. This way, I could control each element (waves, wind, trees, etc.) separately and choose the right amount of each sound for each individual scene.

Filming location:

This short underwater videoclip has been filmed on Île aux Sables in Rodrigues, republic of Mauritius 🇲🇺

Join us on a journey of discovery and entertainment as we explore fascinating marine wildlife topics and explore the many exciting underwater adventures on our YouTube channel and our Facebook page!

Also you can capture the magic of the underwater world with our online Marine Wildlife Videography course!


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