Friday, 7 November 2014

My Day as a Tourist in NOLA (pt 1)

For the first day I was a tourist.  I did classical touristy things.  When I woke up I did not pass Go or collect $200, I went directly to Cafe Du Monde and ate this.

If anyone asks you to define what "a lot of powdered sugar" looks like...
It was bloody inspired, it was so good.  I was hungry, of course, I hadn't eaten at all and that made everything even better than it was already, but the beignets were better than the best donuts I had ever eaten and the powdered sugar had been dusted (dumped) the instant they came out of the friar.  It was sticky and soft and amazing, and I understand why beignets and iced coffee at Cafe Du Monde is one of those things that every breathing human being who I spoke to with any experience in New Orleans at all said I absolutely had to try.

Then I went to the New Orleans Aquarium.  It's comparable to most aquariums that I've seen so far, full of exotic things, only I would say it was a lot better stocked and curated than the one that I'm most familiar with in Vancouver.  I almost immediately learned something I had never known before...

Look closely at what these manta rays are eating

Apparently manta rays go absolutely bonkers over eating broccoli.

It's like a cat eating tuna fish - when the hell would a cat in the wild ever have a chance to even see a tuna fish?  And even if it did, what house cat could possibly ever actually manage to kill a tuna fish?  Tuna are huge!  The cat wouldn't stand a chance.

It's apple-apple here.  What manta ray would do more than asphyxiate if it was land-bound and presented with broccoli?  The broccoli plant might be disturbed by the thrashings of the manta ray, trying to breathe outside of water, but the environment of the broccoli would defend it just as successfully as the size of a tuna fish would defend it from a house cat.

I still find it weird.  Nature never prepared a manta ray to love broccoli so much, and yet there they are, loving broccoli like this lady loves apples (link).

Just after that, me and this guy spent some quality time.

Where else would you find an albino alligator, aside from the NYC sewer system?
He absolutely could kill me, and he absolutely wanted to.  If it were down to me and this beast, he'd grab my idiot self and roll me around underwater until I was dead and turn my empty shell into dinner.  The plexiglass made me brave, but it was a funny feeling being 6 inches away from something that was born to kill and eat warm, squishy mammals like me.

The aquarium had its cast of characters, for sure.  The lionfish looked just as poisonous as the stories suggest, and for some reason the blowfish was ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING (although he wouldn't pose for a picture).  If there was a single thing that I saw that made me feel feelings, it was this...

"Of the 122 animals identified by Lewis and Clark, how many are left today?"
I'll expand it, since the text is small.

Extinct: 1
Possibly Extinct: 1
Federally Endangered: 3
Federally Threatened: 2
Other Official Designation: 37  (candidates for federal or state listings; protected in some manner)

44 out of 122 species that Lewis and Clark identified, or 36% of the wildlife that existed before the land was developed, are extinct, endangered or protected.

It was a heavy note to leave on.  It didn't deter me from being a tourist, but it gave me something to think about while I headed to the zoo.

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