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City confirms: No penguins escaped the Aquarium

Night heron at Lovejoy Wharf

Rachel Dolores was along the locks near Lovejoy Wharf Sunday night when she suddenly had to do a double take:

Am I tripping??? I’m like pretty sure I saw a wild penguin in Boston tonight

She posted a couple of photos on Twitter and tagged the City of Boston. Boston 311 replied:

Whoa! We touched base with @AnimalBoston about this one - it is possibly a night heron. Penguins typically can't perch like that due to their webbed feet.

Sure enough, other people who saw her photos confirmed: That's a night heron, a bird that is not all that uncommon along the less urbanized stretches of the Charles, if not that common a sight right where the Charles pours into the harbor.



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night birds

Voting closed 34

...summertime, summertime.

Voting closed 19

That stubby-looking neck is actually extensible. :-)

Voting closed 22

...a Night Hawk at the South Street Diner

Voting closed 20

increasingly, actually, the harbor pours into the Charles.

Sleep tight.

Voting closed 13

I thought the Charles River basin was still above high tide.

Voting closed 10

because there’s a dam. The Charles River Dam, just below the Zakim, prevents tidal surge into the Charles River, which is why the Charles River Basin is freshwater, not salt, and doesn’t go up and down.

Or was the original post saying that the dam is no longer effective, and that the harbor is over-topping it? That would be a surprise.

Voting closed 10

I had done some research on this recently, and I finally found my notes!

- The river is 12.5 feet above Mean Sea Level at the locks.
- Boston harbor average is 5, and high tide tops out at about 10.

So if I am not completely misunderstanding Mean Sea Level, the Charles is *kept high* by the dam, higher than it would have been as an estuary.

And if I make some crude assumptions, that means that we've got something like 7 feet of sea level rise before they might start needing to actively pump the Charles rather than just let it flow out for most or all of the day. (That's also about the point after which we start losing serious chunks of Camberville.) But only about 2-3 feet of sea level rise before there's some tidal action through the locks.

Voting closed 8

Yes the dam and locks prevent increasingly strong storm serges from infiltrating the Charles, for now.

It’s what happens when a storm and tide coincide that matters, standard climate apocalypse stuff.

Voting closed 8

Funny that penguin being there, innit? What's it doing there?


I can see that!

Voting closed 15