For Penguins and Fish, It Was

Mating as Usual During Rita

While the people of Galveston worried about their own survival in the face of Hurricane Rita, animals at a local aquarium seemed more preoccupied with the survival of their species.

Biologists observed "a lot of breeding behavior" among the Gentoo penguins at Galveston's Moody Gardens, said Jerri Hamachek, spokeswoman for the aquarium.

There was also, Hamachek said, an unusual amount of spawning among the fish.

As the hurricane hit land, the aquarium switched to emergency power and the lights went on and off on schedule above the animals, just as though they were in their natural environments. The penguins did not let a little wind and rain interfere with what is, Hamachek said, their usual mating season.

The penguins' efforts were rewarded last weekend, when a female laid the first Gentoo penguin egg ever at the aquarium. A chick is expected to hatch on Oct. 31.

The bird's sex is, of course, still unknown, but aquarium-workers have already named the chick -- what else? -- Rita.

-- Sonya Geis

Balloon Play Used for a Serious

Trial of Emergency Preparedness

In an exercise billed as part science, part terrorism-preparedness, part hurricane relief and part fun, hundreds of students blowing bubbles and releasing blue balloons took over the University of Michigan football stadium last week.

They were studying wind patterns as part of professor Perry Samson's Extreme Weather class, in which students learn about atmospheric modeling. By measuring where the wind would take bubbles and balloons, they estimated how plumes of noxious substances might disperse in a terrorist attack in a venue such as a stadium.

"It was quite a bit more complex than I anticipated," said Samson, associate chairman of the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences department. "It's a very symmetrical stadium so you'd think the wind flow would be predictable. But we found some bizarre things. Some balloons would go one way, others a different way, some would just swirl around or stay in place."

In keeping with the extreme-weather theme, $3,000 was collected for hurricane victims.

But one group that won't benefit from the experiment is football players.

"I don't want the field-goal kicker thinking he should go a little to the right because the wind's going that way," Samson said. "I don't want to be blamed for that."

-- Kari Lydersen

Former Pilgrim Town Ponders

Overdue Makeover of a Chief

The town seal of Rehoboth, Mass., a part of the original Plymouth Colony, features a stern, youthful Indian in full-feathered headdress. The image resembles those often used in depictions of Indian leaders -- think Big Chief notebooks and the Washington Redskins mascot.

After decades of debate, town officials have decided that the seal's depiction of chief Annawan of the native Wampanoag tribe bears no resemblance to the Indian elder whom English colonists captured and beheaded in their drive to conquer what is now New England.

Townspeople will vote whether to adopt a new town seal with a revised and more accurate rendition of Annawan.

The Providence Journal reports that a 1946 book on Rehoboth's history makes mention of the error. A Wampanoag artisan recently presented an image of an older, less feathered Annawan. The tribe has welcomed the revised image of Annawan at a recent powwow.

-- Michelle Garcia

Two-Timers Are Outed

On Publicist's Web Site

"When he thinks he has got you, he will cheat on you with a friend of yours right under your nose," the jilted lover writes about her former honey in Vermont. ". . . Then he'll leave you high and dry with all the bills he helped make."

Welcome to, the brainchild of a Miami publicist who created a site to expose cads and churls who find monogamy inconvenient. Women can share their sorrow and post warnings -- searchable by name and city -- about the men they accuse of cheating.

"The site really is a forum for women who have been cheated on to exchange ideas, opinions, share their stories and find support," creator Tasha Joseph told the Miami Herald, explaining that she has firsthand experience with the jolt of being jilted.

Judging by the early response to the three-month-old site, the fact of writing is a relief. One woman wrote of a man who cheated and thanked Joseph profusely.

"Yes, I am his wife," she said of the suspect, whom she named. "He had an affair with his co-worker from Hooters for the entirety of our marriage and had two -- not one but two -- children with her. He lives in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area."

-- Catharine Skipp