The perennially popular penguin

There are few things in life cuter than a penguin. OK, maybe when a penguin waddles, especially if there are more than one and it’s actually a parade!

The colony of African blackfooted penguins (Spheniscus demersus) in our Splash Zone family gallery is a must-see on any visit. These stout little birds are endlessly entertaining as they preen, feed, sleep, waddle and swim. You can also catch all the action every day on our Penguin Cam.

Each of our penguins has a name (look for identification bands on their wings) and there are several mated pairs. To date, those pairs have produced four chicks that grew up under both human and penguin care.

Cornerstone of our colony

Most of our penguins came from the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, arriving in 2005 for the debut of Splash Zone. Years later, they held a family reunion of sorts when we rescued the penguin colony (and two sea otters) from that aquarium after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. These southern cousins eventually returned home to much fanfare, and we were proud and happy to have hosted them. (We think the penguins were, too.)

Other penguins in our colony came from other zoos and aquariums. One of those is Bee, short for Bumblebee, who is 16 years old and came from the Memphis Zoo in 2010. Bee and her mate, Geyser, are the biological parents of Maq, one of the chicks hatched at the Aquarium that you can find on exhibit.

Bee is featured with National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore in an article about his Photo Ark project in Audubon magazine. She’s also the portrait on this post.

Our thanks to Joel for the wonderful images of our animals that he created for his Photo Ark project.

Jaxon was in a lot of pain. He stood in front of the mirror in his bathroom, stark naked, turning around to get a good look at the bruises that covered his body. He punched in a number on his phone that was sitting next to the sink. After a few rings, Katrina picked up. “Kat, you need to come over. Right now. Pretty sure you fucking broke my ass.”

Photo by @stephenwilkes. This photograph was taken 6 months after Hurricane Katrina, in Bay St. Louis, MS where almost 600 homes were destroyed. As I made my way to the shore, I noticed this TV set peaking out of the shallow water and captured what I saw as an apt metaphor that the media had left like the tide had gone out. The photograph serves as a reminder of what really went on in the time after the storm; in the months following, most had long since packed up, it was over. But for the residents, it was only just the beginning. by natgeo


Dolphin Cay in Atlantis

Ceta Base is a site that logs the capture, transport and death rates of captive dolphins around the world. Ceta Base estimated there are some 240 dolphins — both wild-caught and captive-bred — in facilities across the Caribbean, and that most of the wild dolphins hailed from Cuba, Honduras and the Gulf of Mexico.

Forty of these dolphins are at Dolphin Cay, a popular facility at Atlantis, a resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Opened in 2007, Dolphin Cay is a 14-acre lagoon with “seven million gallons of natural Bahamian ocean water,” says Greg Charbeneau, vice president of Marine Operations.

The first dolphins to live at Dolphin Cay were relocated from the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The transfer was well-publicized and was also the subject of a 2007 book, “The Katrina Dolphins: One-Way Ticket To Paradise.”

Since Atlantis is one of the most popular facilities, The Dodo reached out for a response to welfare concerns with SWTD programs. Atlantis prioritizes the well-being of its dolphins with a team of 90 specialists and veterinarians to “ensure their safety and comfort at all times,” said Charbeneau in an email to The Dodo. He also explained that dolphin programs help teach people about marine mammals and conservation, and it is one of Atlantis’ passions to conserve marine life.

Atlantis is accredited by both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and is also a member of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association, he notes.

The facility has had 16 successful dolphin births since 2007 and one dolphin mortality. Its interaction coves, says Charbeneau, are 10 feet deep.

Sam Duncombe, the director of reEarth, a Bahamian grassroots organization that was behind the closure of another SWTD facility in the Bahamas last year, disagrees with some of Charbeneau’s claims. Born and raised in the area, Duncombe told The Dodo she’s been fighting against the development of dolphinariums — including the Atlantis — for nearly 25 years.
“[The Katrina dolphins] were bought, not rescued,” Duncombe says. “It was greenwashing in a big way.” Duncombe also maintains that the cells the dolphins are in are “horrible.”

“When I saw what they had built [for the dolphins], I cried,” she said. “The bloody fish in the aquarium have more than [them], with corals and rocks. These dolphins just have bare white concrete pools.”

In fact, Duncombe’s concern about the depth of the pools is shared by scientist Naomi Rose, from AWI, who says that dolphins routinely dive to 60 feet.

Ten feet, she argues, “is far too shallow!”


Marty Mard shows us why now in 2013, eight years after Hurricane Katrina struck the city, New Orleans is still relevant and creating new talent. The growth of the music scene and production from new artists has been almost nonexistent since the storm devastated the city. With little to no mainstream music outlets, we still are graced with Marty Mard and his team’s productions. As the voice of the Bayou Ballers, Marty Mard has taken slick rapping and getting fly to another level. His clever lyrics and unmatched fashion put him ahead of the game as an up and coming music icon. Hosted by Power 106’s Dj Carisma, After Katrina is definitely Marty’s break through project. It’s the new sound from New Orleans that we’ve all been waiting for. The download for his album is below. On November 29th Marty will perform hits from his After Katrina as well as past albums at his headlining concert in New Orleans Club Republic

I’m a logical person. I do most things in life because they make sense. I have also been in a few extreme situations. For example, I was across the street from the Pentagon on 9/11, in the Hart Senate Building on the day anthrax was discovered there, in the White House during a bomb threat, and in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina passed through.

In all of those cases, I observed people acting rationally. They generally did what you would expect a reasonable person to do. We all looked out for our own safety and listened to people who sounded as though they knew what they were doing. Nobody I saw did anything that I would classify as dumb or reckless. In short, everybody’s behavior made sense and was appropriate to the situation.

Why am I telling you this? Because to me the actions of the Tsarnaev brothers did not make sense.

Compared to just about everybody else on the WhoWhatWhy team, I’m a novice when it comes to the Boston bombing and only helped with a bit of the editing during the trial. I’m the wrong person to discuss the fine nuances of the case. I did, however, find myself shaking my head and thinking, “that doesn’t make sense” over and over again whenever I learned something new about the aftermath of the bombing.

Before pointing out a few examples, let me stress that, obviously, planting a bomb anywhere and targeting (especially) civilians to me is itself highly irrational. It is therefore possible that we are simply dealing with two really disturbed young men and it all happened exactly the way the prosecution in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial has said. Nevertheless, that conclusion would appear to be neither logical nor plausible. Let me explain what I mean.


I want to focus here not on theories or insinuations but rather on things anybody can watch, in three videos presented at the trial.

Video 1

What puzzled me the most is that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev took a couple of minutes to pick out the right kind of snacks at a gas station while his brother was waiting outside in a stolen car with a kidnapped individual in plain sight. Who in their right mind would do this while on the run? I’d grab the first snacks I saw and be in and out within 30 seconds at most. If that had happened, Dun “Danny” Meng would not have had time to escape—or describe how Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the man holding a gun on him, gratuitously confessed to both the bombing and the shooting of Officer Sean Collier.

Let’s keep in mind that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the same guy who the prosecution said had the poise and tradecraft to know to smash his cell phones while on the run. He had the presence of mind to do that, but not to pick the first bag of potato chips he could find?

And then there is the matter of the two cars.

I’m guessing that the reason for the carjacking—if we can believe anything we’ve been told about that (and our investigations raise many questions about it—was that, once they were identified as suspects, the brothers did not want to use their own vehicle. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is bothering to retrieve Dzhokhar’s Honda after the carjacking victim escapes from his Mercedes. After that point, they were in a two-car convoy with both vehicles being actively looked for. Who would be so illogical? If they needed a different vehicle, they could have carjacked another one.

Video 2

And why even wait a couple of days before making a move, especially if that move is the brothers’ alleged plan to plant bombs in New York City? If, as the prosecution says, the Tsarnaevs were a couple of jihadists, then they should not have feared death. So why not make that move in the chaos immediately following the bombing? That was the perfect time to get away. Instead, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shows up in a store, in front of a camera, buys some milk and then returns it a minute or so later. Who would do that and why?

Video 3

The last video is the one from MIT that shows the murder of Officer Sean Collier. From quite a distance away, it shows two figures, who would later be named as the Tsarnaev brothers. But if it was indeed them, then why? Why would they even be there? The prosecution said it was to get another gun. Here is the thing about America: If you want a gun, you don’t need to attack a police officer 30 feet away from a busy street, especially if you are well-prepared jihadists. They could have gotten a gun just about anywhere else, ahead of time. It just doesn’t make sense that at a moment when their faces are plastered on TV screens in every household, that they’d decide to go to a public place instead of just leaving the city. Plus, they already had a gun. Even if they didn’t, who would expect to easily obtain a gun on a darkened university campus? Who would know that an officer was sitting in his patrol car between a couple of buildings on the campus?

What also doesn’t make sense is for the prosecution to omit a chunk of time from that video, which can clearly be observed in the video linked above (as evidence by the timestamp and the cars passing on the upper left corner of the video). There is really no need to edit out any part of the video if everything happened exactly as the prosecution has described it. It couldn’t have been out of a desire to somehow shield the jury or the family of Sean Collier from violence. After all, the courtroom itself was the scene of gory images. And the video footage was grainy and images remote—taken by a camera a couple hundred feet away from the scene of the crime.

I obviously don’t have the answers to any of these questions. But neither did the defense or the media. And neither does the public.

this will never mean a thing to anybody and that’s a terrifying notion i will never come to grips with, but here is the house i grew up in the most, and i guess they painted all the brick white after katrina, and all the trees in the backyard are gone and there’s no more pool and those roosters in the creek in the back probably drowned and i will never be able to recreate this or visit or even begin to accurately depict through words or pictures the visceral quality of watching things disappear.

that one time my school was the first to reopen in new orleans after katrina and i got interviewed and it made national papers, but i was 11 and dumb

I present the official artwork for my “After Katrina” album. Shit ain’t been the same since the hurricane but there are still people, culture, & an incredible amount of unseen talent here in da N.O. This house is exactly 4 houses down the block from where I live and they still got destroyed houses & buildings all through out the city. Ain’t much left for us to build off of but everybody still grindin cause that’s all we know! “After Katrina” represents New Orleans official comeback. The spray painted ✖ explains it all. (Dead Bodies) “6” of my homies got Merked after Katrina. (Agency) “BB” Bayou Ballers. (Date) “5-13” Katrina moved me from the 5th ward to the 13th. (Hazards) 1… Marty Mard.  The takeova is real and unstoppable we celebrate the future and remember the past on NOVEMBER 2ND “AFTER KATRINA” hosted by Power 106 DJ Carisma