The Pick Me Up
Baby seadragons born in Boston and other stories making us smile this week
Editor's Note: This is a roundup of this week's moments of joy from WBUR's seasonal newsletter, The Pick Me Up. If you want a little bit of good news to help you get through the week and push through to spring, sign up here.
From one very convincing tortoise slideshow to a speedy group of octogenarians, here are the moments bringing us joy this week.
1. This tortoise-loving teen is a expert negotiator
Author Matthew Horton’s daughter wants a tortoise. And to persuade her parents, the 13-year-old made a 23-slide PowerPoint presentation, complete with everything from health research to Hindu mythology.
Horton tweeted photos Sunday of the impressive slide deck, which outlines a compelling case for tortoise ownership that I could not have argued with (and, yes, cute tortoise pictures were also included because she knows what she’s doing).
The tweet quickly went viral and the thread of replies brought me just as much joy as the presentation. It’s filled with current tortoise owners!
Here are two of my favorite responses:
- "I did something very similar and got one for my 12th birthday. 17 years on Donald is still going strong having survived university halls, house parties, living with a dog and my rabbit-breeding era ? Best thing you’ll ever do!” replied Miriam Walker-Khan.
- “We got a tortoise for our son when he was 6. He’s now 26. He went to uni and we became accidental tortoise keepers for however long until he gets a place of his own. Carlos is 18 and has another c. 80 years to go. It is a BIG commitment.” Andrew Stronach wrote, adding a very cute video of Carlos eating a raspberry that cannot be missed.
While Horton’s daughter hasn’t convinced me to buy my own tortoise just yet, I may see if her services are available to persuade my partner to get us a dog.
2. Four octogenarians complete a 100-mile race
Let’s just start by saying a 100-mile race is a feat at any age. So, when I saw the Washington Post headline that five men in their 80s competed in the USA Track & Field 100 Mile Road Championships in Henderson, Nevada, earlier this month, I had to click.
And I’m so glad I did.
I learned that the winner of the 80-to-84 age group, David Blaylock of Draper, Utah, completed the course in 29 hours 49 minutes and 29 seconds. He shaved 45 minutes off the existing age-group record! (The overall race winner crossed the finish line in about 14 hours.)
The Post goes over the men’s slow-to-start running pasts, training techniques and what they eat to stay in race shape. There are also plenty of photos and videos from race day.
It warms my heart to see later-in-life runners in their prime, but what’s really so special is the competition and camaraderie among these men.
“I love these guys,” Blaylock said. “They’re tough old men, and we’ve all got problems, but we just keep coming back.”
3. Rare baby seadragons are born at the aquarium
Springtime brings baby birds, bunnies… and this year, at the New England Aquarium, baby seadragons.
For 15 years, researchers at the aquarium have tried to breed seadragons, underwater creatures that look similar to a seahorse. However, it has proven extremely challenging. Seadragons have an intricate mating ritual that is easily affected by external factors like water temperature, daylight, nutrition and even tank size.
Staff had nearly given up hope on seeing their seadragons produce offspring. Then, as NEAQ galleries manager Jeremy Brodt put it, “all the stars aligned.”
Back in May, aquarium staff noticed one male weedy seadragon unexpectedly carrying eggs in his pouch. Eight weeks later, 20 hatchlings made their debut in Boston.
The rare breeding success — a first for the aquarium — even made recent national headlines. The 20 baby seadragons now live in the aquarium’s care tanks, where aquarists will slowly raise them until they’re ready to join the main exhibit this summer.