Boston: Penguin Day visit to the Aquarium, and noms

January 21, 2020 • 11:00 am

As yesterday was Penguin Appreciation Day, we decided to visit the refurbished New England Aquarium, which has a lovely penguin exhibit, as well as many other nice exhibits. (They care well for their animals.) The penguin tank, which is huge, occupies the whole first floor of the aquarium, and, though it’s said to harbor rockhopper penguins and African penguins (Spheniscus demersus), we saw only the latter.

I saw rockhoppers in the Falkland Islands, but Africans are new to me. Here’s one in the Aquarium.

And here are two.

Luckily for us, it was penguin feeding time when we arrived. It’s a laborious exercise because, as you see in my video below, each tagged penguin is fed a precise number of fish by hand, and their consumption is tallied on a chart. Each fish is dipped in water before being proffered to the bird. This ensures that all penguins are well nourished, but I’m a bit sad that they don’t get the experience of catching fish on their own in the water. But that would have its own problems, including nutritional inequities.

A pair of them were mating—or trying to.

African penguins are also called “jackass penguins” because of their cacophonous braying. You can hear that in the video below.

Matthew sent me this tweet, which I’m just throwing in. I can imagine a penguin dating profile: “Natty dresser, loves long walks on the beach and fish dinners.”

They also had a couple of young cuttlefish in a tank, and I was mesmerized by them. They’re very smart, of course, but can also, like their relatives, change color quickly. They also have two “feeding tentacles” that shoot out instantly from the mouth region to snatch prey. You can see both the color change and the feeding apparatus in the video below.

Another hovering cuttlefish.

There was a lovely albeit small exhibit of jellyfish in a tank full of brine shrimp (I think). Here’s a photo and a video:

For lunch it was a short walk to the highly regarded Mexican lunch spot Tenóch near Davis Square.

It’s an unprepossessing place, serving tortas (Mexican sandwiches on fat rolls), tacos, and burritos. Their tortas are their best-known item.

The menu. I had the torta pastor with pork in achiote sauce, a big slice of fresh pineapple, pickled vegetables, cheese, and, well, look at the photo at the bottom and figure it out yourself. It was superb!

Unopened torta:

My sandwich, opened to show its contents. Yum!

I recommend this place highly if you’re near Davis or Porter Squares.

12 thoughts on “Boston: Penguin Day visit to the Aquarium, and noms

  1. When I went to the New England Aquarium around 2007/2008, there was a cute penguin they had standing inside a glass/acrylic box as they talked about him to the crowd. He was so cute standing there being looked at.

  2. The Maryland Zoo has “ambassador” penguins (referring to their role and training, not their species. I believe they were African penguins by species) which you can meet in a controlled environment. I took my kid there when he was six. Wonderful experience.

    1. Not sure what you mean. If by “more-ish” you mean I wanted more, yes, it was good. But you might also mean that there was insufficient pork in the sandwich. I think that yes, they could have put a bit more in, but as it was I think that all the flavors were very balanced.

  3. The New England Aquarium is one of my favorites. Do they still have that giant lobster? I will admit it’s a bit sad as the poor thing has barely enough room to move around, though perhaps they let it have more room after exhibit hours.

    Tortas are one of my favs. I usually try the carnitas torta first. Some places don’t put any beans or avocado on their tortas, basically making them into regular old American sandwiches. I hope yours was not like that.

  4. I don’t visit zoos, but I love visiting aquariums. Next time I’m in Boston, I’ll check it out. And get a torta while I’m at it. Pork Al Pastor is probably my favorite Mexican meat, followed by grilled lengua and carnitas.

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