Monday, December 22, 2008

Cold Blast of Air Outside

We are experiencing a blast of cold air from the "other Pole" today in Chattanooga. This morning's low dipped into the teens and so far we haven't been back to the freezing mark. So while that's o.k. for our penguin friends at the South Pole and Santa at the North Pole, we prefer it much warmer. "Tropical Holiday Adventure" anyone? (It was a toasty 75 degrees in the Butterfly Garden all day long.)
Thanks today to Becky for sending these pictures and quick note about how much she enjoys her Tennessee Aquarium membership:

My grandchildren and I LOVE the aquarium! We especially like the butterfly room and the penguins! ! I have had a membership for many years now and it never gets old!

Happy Holidays from everyone at the Tennessee Aquarium!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tell Us About Your Tropical Holiday Adventure

'Tis the Season for some family time and we have been getting some great e-mails lately about how much fun everyone has been having at the Tennessee Aquarium. It seems like we all need a chance to unwind and really enjoy each other at this time of year. Here's what Maria from Madison, AL has to say about her family's recent "Tropical Holiday Adventure" in Chattanooga:

First, my husband and I met in Chattanooga and got married there. He grew up in Red Bank and went to school there too. We just moved back from our last residence in Victoria, Texas last August 2006 to Madison, AL which is located next to Huntsville. Most of our family and relatives live in Chattanooga, TN and Warner Robins, GA. We have two boys and they love coming to the TN Aquarium so much that we thought it will be wise to have an Aquarium membership. It works like a genius for us because every time we come to visit my in-laws it is a treat for our boys after riding in the car for two hours. From our last visit there as you can see in one of the picture, you guys had some volunteer divers in the aquarium. Our boys name from left to right is Hunter (5 yrs. old) and Jake (3 yrs. old). We always have a pleasant time and our kids learn about salt and river water fish and more. They are particularly amazed by the sharks and stingrays. Then when we go down after the butterfly sanctuary, they start running towards the penguin aquarium for another dose of fun and a big smiles on their faces. We like the great membership and we think it especially brings a lot of joy seeing our two boys just having fun and learning new things every time we come for our visit.

This is one of the membership that we have acquired that we will keep every year.

Thanks for sharing your story and pictures with us Maria! Happy (Tropical) Holidays to all!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Aquarium Style Championship Football Fever

University of Montana and University of Richmond football players enjoyed an evening of BBQ and fun at the Tennessee Aquarium while they were in Chattanooga for the 2008 NCAA Division I Football Championship. Everyone seemed to have a great time relaxing and marveling at the Aquarium's animals and exhibits. Two of the biggest stars of the evening were volunteer divers Angie Lewallen and Bill Hall, shown here decked out in Montana and Richmond football jerseys. Not only were Angie and Bill able to discuss their dive plans above the Gulf of Mexico exhibit, they could talk over their "playbook" underwater too.
Bill and Angie geared up with surface supplied air systems which are a bit different than SCUBA gear visitors are used to seeing at the Aquarium. Notice they don't have air tanks on their backs. The full face mask is attached to a set of air tanks that's out of the water. This setup also contains a microphone and speakers so they are able to talk to one another. They are also able to communicate directly with the person in charge of surface support for the dive. In this case, that was the Aquarium's assistant curator of fishes, Carol Farmer.
If you have seen the Secret Reef dive shows in the Ocean Journey building, you've seen a diver wearing a very similar system to the ones Angie and Bill are wearing in these pictures. During our Secret Reef dives shows, the diver interacts with someone from the Aquarium's education staff and answers guest questions.
The football players enjoyed watching Angie hoist Bill above her head and tackle him while sharks, rays and colorful reef fish swirled around them. Carol Farmer remarked after the dives, "I'm not sure who had more fun. The visitors or our divers."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Special Night at IMAX

Left to Right - Deborah Luehrs, Jacqueline Norwood and Ansel Peak, executive director of Big Brothers, Big Sisters get ready to enjoy "The Light Before Christmas" at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater.

“The Light Before Christmas” fills the giant screen at the Tennessee Aquarium’s IMAX 3D Theater with heart-warming holiday images. And thanks to the generosity of area Subway restaurants, hundreds of children and their Big Brothers and Big Sisters had the opportunity to enjoy this new IMAX film.

On Friday, December 12th, Subway reserved the theater for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Chattanooga as a special holiday gift for this vital organization which helps children reach their potential through the professionally supported one-to-one relationships. BBBS of Chattanooga fosters “Little moments…big magic,” and getting together at the IMAX Theater in downtown Chattanooga helped create some holiday magic for these children.

You can see "The Light Before Christmas" and "Polar Express 3D" at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater now through January 6th. More film information and showtimes can be found here:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ho, Ho, Ho.....It's Nemo!

Thanks to Heather from Chattanooga for sharing this great picture and story.

The photo was taken during Caroling with the Fishes while the high school choir was singing Rudolph in the background. She's usually scared to death of things like this, but she watched the bigger kids go in and goof around. So she waited for her turn and then crawled in. At first, she didn't realize she could stand up. Then, when she finally stood up, the clownfish was right in front of her. She started screaming "Mommy, it's Nemo! NEMO NEMO NEMO" like she was trying to talk to the fish.
I almost got video too, but she (and the fish) move way too fast.

Do you have a great picture or story to tell? Why not share your pictures with others on our Flickr group page:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dial in and listen, then leave us a message.

Our new cell phone audio tour is getting quite a few calls. You can learn about cool creatures like our huge beluga sturgeon shown above. Some visitors have even taken the time to leave us messages. It's fun to hear your voice-mail and we appreciate the comments.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Feast for the Eyes

Today is a perfect example of why we need a tropical break every now and then. Temperatures are in the 40s and it's raining. So the light, warmth and colorful butterflies in the Tennessee Aquarium's Butterfly Garden are especially inviting. Some species prefer fruit rather than gathering nectar from the beautiful blooms on the plants. So these butterflies have been given a colorful fruit wreath as a tasty treat. We invite everyone to enjoy a Tropical Holiday Adventure while family and friends are in the area this time of year. Escape the chilly weather and enjoy some of the special holiday activities at the Tennessee Aquarium. Check out the daily schedule here:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Can you hear me now?

Next time you visit the Tennessee Aquarium, bring your cell phone so you can dial into our new audio tour. Want to know more about penguins? Penguin-keeper Amy Graves has some fun facts about gentoos and macaronis. Entemologist Jennifer Taylor has details about the delicate beauties in the butterfly garden. Gee whiz gator facts, more about macaws, trout trivia and snappy answers about your snapping turtle questions. Sixteen audio stops are spread out between both Aquarium buildings.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Connect with your Aquarium Friends

We're glad you stop by from time to time to check out what's going on at the Aquarium. Some people may want to "dive a little deeper" to keep up with their Aquarium friends.

So we invite everyone to become a fan of the Tennessee Aquarium on facebook, be a friend on myspace, add photos to our flickr page, subscribe to our YouTube channel
and follow us on twitter

There are fun videos, awesome images and much more. Join these sites and share your thoughts and pictures while connecting to a global network of Aquarium fans.

Wow! So many FIN-tastic ways to see what's hoppin' at the Aquarium and share your fun with other birds of a feather.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wild Weather Aboard the River Gorge Explorer

"If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute and it will change." It's not real clear who first coined this humorous look at a certain locality's variable weather conditions. It has been attributed to many including Mark Twain and Will Rogers. Many locations have adopted the saying as if to boast about the weirdness of their weather. Try a Google search and you'll be amazed...Colorado, Texas, New England and others lay claim to sixty-second wild weather flip-flops. So the Tennessee River Gorge ought to be included in the list. A sharp cold front passed through the area Friday night bringing a variety of weather to the Chattanooga area. Captain Pete tells me the passengers aboard the River Gorge Explorer enjoyed a climatologically wild ride Saturday. "We had a little bit of rain, sleet, snow and two full rainbows. It was wild," said Captain Pete. "In fact, there were two times with full sun. Not just a few breaks in the clouds, but totally sunny sky overhead. And when we turned around, we didn't have any wind and it was really nice out on the observation deck." Many people might think the best river cruising weather is over. But if you ask Captain Mike or Captain Pete, they will tell you the best is yet to come. Winter is their favorite time on the river. "You can see more in winter," says Captain Pete. Fear not fair weather fans. The River Gorge Explorer is climate-controlled, so no matter how long you wait...the weather inside will always be comfortable and quite predictable.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Experience the Ray Buffet

Starting on Monday, November 3rd, some guests of the Aquarium got the opportunity to feed some of the southern and Atlantic rays that take residence on Shark Island in Ocean Journey.

One of the younger guests featured in this video describes feeding the rays like, "feeling like a worm sliding down my hand." Sounds like quite an aquatic experience!

Guests only get the opportunity to feed the rays while the food lasts, so get there early if you want to try it out!

Monday, November 3, 2008

An Update On The River Gorge Explorer

Thanks to a new grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, there have been even more explorers aboard the Tennessee River Gorge Explorer. The grant from the Foundation allowed for 3rd-5th graders from Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy to discover the importance of freshwater conservation. In late October, the tour became an eco-adventure for these students when they tested water quality, searched for native species and learned about freshwater habitats.

You too can be part of the exploration of the Tennessee River Gorge while visiting the Riverfront of Chattanooga. Leaving from the Chattanooga Pier, the Explorer takes guests on a tour of "Tennessee's Grand Canyon," as you pass through Signal and Raccoon Mountain. The River Gorge Explorer is a 70 passenger high-speed catamaran creates an adventure on the Tennessee River.

It is a beautiful way to see the fall foliage as well as get a glimpse at the wildlife we are so privileged to have in our own backyard. Chattanooga's fall climate in perfect for viewing the many colors of changing leaves. This gorgeous climate also attracts migrating hawks. The naturalist on-board is always keeping a keen eye out to point out the wildlife seen from the cruise.

For more information check out the official web page for the River Gorge Explorer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Check out some fun videos.

Have a "spooktacular" time at the Tennessee Aquarium during "Thrills, Gills and Chills". To learn more about special dive shows, keeper talks and animal encounters go to:

Watch our North American river otters enjoy a special trick or treat and other cool Aquarium videos here:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some more awesome pictures!

Our thanks today to Michele Smith for sharing a few of her outstanding images she captured on a recent visit to the Tennessee Aquarium. If Michele isn't a professional photographer, she ought to be. She has a great eye!

Here's what Michele's friend Darrin had to say about their trip to Chattanooga: We made a special trip down to Chattanooga from Nashville specifically to visit your aquarium. Michele had been there years before and it seemed like a great idea for a road trip, while I was visiting Nashville from Colorado Springs. It was a fantastic trip! Except for the rain, it was an incredible trip. We could have spent several more hours just hanging out watching the fish, the sharks, the turtle... It's hard to say what was the best part. The seahorse, sea dragons, the penguins, petting a sting ray, or maybe just listening to the very knowledgeable volunteers telling stories about the animals. It was all fantastic. Unfortunately, timing prevented me from more than just a day trip to your beautiful city, but I hope to come back again. Next time, I hope to make a weekend of it, and spend some time enjoying some of the other activities around town.

Gentoo penguin - taken by Michele Smith

North American river otters - taken by Michele Smith

Feeding time in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit. - taken by Michele Smith

Leafy sea dragon - taken by Michele Smith

Look Closely! A ribboned pipehorse blends in to the scenery. - taken by Michele Smith

Nectar break in the Tennessee Aquarium's Butterfly Garden. - taken by Michele Smith

Friday, September 12, 2008

What will you see?

Great blue heron in flight. - David Rose

It was a special treat to receive an e-mail from David Rose, one of the Tennessee Aquarium's new volunteer docents. He wanted to share these fantastic wildlife pictures he captured while paddling the Tennessee River Gorge this past week. Make sure you take time to click on each picture to bring up the full-sized image. Thanks for sending the great shots David!
Beaver swimming in the Tennessee River Gorge. - David Rose
Turkeys in the Tennessee River Gorge. - David Rose

Raccoon making a rare daytime appearance in the Gorge. - David Rose

A great blue heron fishing along the Tennessee River. - David Rose

Turkey vulture roosting in the Tennessee River Gorge. - David Rose

Osprey in flight with fish in talons. - David Rose

Osprey with lunch underfoot. - David Rose

Let us know what you see aboard the Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge Explorer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nice Note from Recent Visitors

We would like to let you all know that we really enjoyed our recent visit to your aquarium. We had to evacuate for the hurricane from the New Orleans area and found ourselves in Chattanooga. Upon suggestion, we decided to visit the aquarium. Everyone from the ticket office to the ticket takers were very nice. How wonderful! The children 14 and 10 years old really loved your facility. It was a breath of fresh air considering what we were worried about at home. Thank you and keep up the good work. Kudos to you all.
The Petkovich family- Kenner, La.

We are glad you enjoyed your visit and we hope you did not suffer any damage.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Get Movin' with a Tennessee Aquarium Membership

One of our volunteers agreed to a rather quirky request to have his legs and feet photographed in River Journey's Delta Swamp exhibit. "I've never had my feet photographed before," he said. I explained the odd request by relating the story Christa from Harrison, TN recently sent us. She wrote a letter to let everyone know how much she enjoys her membership visits at the Tennessee Aquarium. You see Christa balanced work and home life by beginning each day with a morning devotion and a daily brief walk. But foot surgery and other issues forced Christa to stop taking walks. As a result, she began feeling burdened by work and home duties. She says she felt "out of sorts" as a result. Here's her solution:
"Bringing my lunch [to work] every day, reading or doing crossword puzzles for relaxation, I needed an incentive, a place to go for walks starting in that gray February. Enjoying nature, I bought a year's family plus membership at the Tennessee Aquarium, which is a ten minute drive away. Being frugal, it cost less than an exercise program." So twice a week Christa would take a 20 to 30 minute walk at the Aquarium alternating her trips between River Journey and Ocean Journey. "It was usually peaceful and I enjoyed the blue water exhibits, walking down the slope and enjoying the fish, creatures and butterfly garden. I felt revived." With a family plus membership Christa was able to bring a guest each time. Sometimes it was family members, church friends, neighbors and even co-workers joined her on these walks.
Thanks Christa for sharing your story. We don't have fancy exercise equipment at this "jungle gym," but sometimes it's the mind and one's spirit that need a special workout. Your story is a reminder that the Tennessee Aquarium is a great place to relax and reconnect.
If you'd like to become a Tennessee Aquarium member, the information is available here:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Penguin Pals Looking for More Friends

Volunteer docent Bill Allen snapped this picture of his penguin pals.

"Here is the picture of some o my friends at the aquarium. They are all from the Gentoo tribe. I like the composition that I captured on my camera. Hope you enjoy," Bill said.

Right now is a great time to get involved with the Tennessee Aquarium. We're looking for volunteer docents. If you like animals and sharing fish facts with others, we would like to hear from you.

You are just one click away from learning more about becoming an Aquarium volunteer.

Artistic Jellies

Thanks to Terri from Athens, AL for capturing this artistic image of west coast sea nettles at the Tennessee Aquarium. Their stinging arms look like flexible neon lights in this picture.

Terri had this to say about her recent visit: "My husband and kids and I had been camping near Chattanooga and drove in for the day. The kids had a ton of fun running around the undulating walkways and waterways around the aquarium. I wish we had something like that in our little town. My son was amazed at every gross animal and my daughter loved the beautiful ones. The poor sea turtle was a special interest to us, we are so glad you've given it a peaceful home to live in (sharks and all). Jellyfish have freaked me out since childhood, but the backlighting and graceful moves made them intriguing. I got my daughter to take several shots of me standing dangerously close to the towers of jellyfish. This shot was taken while holding the camera lens against the glass as it swam by. It is now my computer desktop."

It's a great looking shot! Thanks for sending it. Hang onto your hat if you are like Terri and a bit "terri-fied" by jellyfish, approximately 100 sea walnuts were added to "Boneless Beauties" gallery this week.

Looking for some more scary fun? Start thinking about visiting the Tennessee Aquarium in October to enjoy learning about the creepy and cool animals during "Thrills, Gills and Chills." "Sea Monsters 3D" returns to the IMAX Theater during October as well.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Great Jelly Picture

Jellyfish are amazing creatures and they are among our most photographed animals. Often visitors are willing to share some of their fantastic images like this one. The reflection makes it seem as though the guest was in the exhibit with the west coast sea nettles. Sierra from Chattanooga gave us a few details about their trip. "Hi, we took this picture while at the aquarium this year. Thought it was pretty cool. We live here in Chattanooga. My parents came to visit from New Bern, NC. My son Brent wanted to take them to the Aquarium. That is Brent in the reflection. They really enjoyed the butterfly garden and the area where you could touch the fish." Thanks for sharing the awesome picture Sierra.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Celebrating Aquarium Volunteers

"Hang around here long enough and they'll put you to work." You have probably heard that statement made about any number of locations, but it seems to ring true more often at the Tennessee Aquarium than many places. Visitors are engaged by volunteers frequently and many are intrigued by the idea of joining this outgoing group. Many people enjoy meeting people from all over the world and learning more about the animals and exhibits. In some cases, volunteers are also directly involved with feeding and care of the Aquarium's animals and plants. And according to Irby Hartley, the volunteer diver shown in the pictures above, volunteering is also a way to stay fit and feeling younger than your years. Irby just celebrated his 82nd birthday and as you can see, is very fit and active. Irby encourages everyone to give a little time and energy to any organization. "Volunteering is an excellent way to get self confidence and a great way to give back a part of what you have gotten out of life," Irby said. Irby even convinced his wife Sara to become a volunteer docent at the Aquarium. In fact, for many couples volunteering at the Aquarium is a joint effort and another way to have a rewarding joint experience. New volunteer recruitment is an on-going effort at the Tennessee Aquarium as people's lives change, but a large number of volunteers at the Aquarium enjoy their experience so much they stay with the program for years. Nearly two dozen volunteers have been helping the Aquarium for 10 years or more. Learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Tennessee Aquarium by following this link:
Right now is the perfect time to sign up as a docent at the Tennessee Aquarium. The next training session for volunteers begins on September 23, 2008.
So we say hats off to Irby and happy birthday! You are a shining example of the volunteer spirit that's so important to our community....and a role model for younger people who hope to live a happy, healthy and full life.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fun and Education During Shark Week

Shark Week 2008 was a lot of fun at the Tennessee Aquarium. Underwater filmmaker Nick Caloyianis thrilled visitors with a special presentation focused on the late Peter Gimbel's life before a showing of the digitally remastered "Blue Water, White Death" which was directed by Gimbel. This was a ground-breaking film in so many ways. It was the first underwater documentary to capture images of great white sharks and also inspired Peter Benchley's thrilling novel "Jaws." Caloyianis pointed out that Peter Gimbel shot this film in a manner which holds up to today's digital standards. From a historical perspective watching this film in 2008, three things seem to leap off the screen at you. First, the whaling scenes evoke strong reactions from audiences. Some people have never seen whales being harpooned and thankfully there is much less whaling being done today than what was seen in 1971. However, there's still too many of these magnificent animals being slaughtered today. Second, the number of sharks seen by Peter Gimbel's crew in 1969 was unbelievable by today's standards. Nick Caloyianis was quick to point out this shift in shark populations. "What Gimbel saw was amazing. Literally hundreds of sharks everywhere. Today you can spend a few days in many of the same places they filmed "Blue Water, White Death" and only see a handful of sharks. The baselines are really shifting as we lose more and more sharks every year." Hopefully with more protection these awesome predators will be able to recover. Third, you gain a real appreciation for great white sharks watching this film. The camera shots are beautiful. You also see the power a big shark can unleash on a shark cage in one of the film's final scenes. (And you flash back to that famous scene from "Jaws".) In fact, the original Peter Gimbel shark cage from "Blue Water, White Death" is now on display at the Tennessee Aquarium thanks to Nick. People really enjoy stepping inside and posing for a toothy photo or two. Above you see Nick Caloyianis talking to a future shark diver about the newly released "Shark Handbook." Nick was the principal photographer for the was written by Nick's friend Dr. Greg Skomal, known by some as the Discovery Channel's "Shark Guy." The bottom picture features Nick Caloyianis and his partner, underwater photographer Clarita Berger hamming it up for the camera. Thanks Nick and Clarita! Can't wait to see your next film.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thanks for the Kind Words

We always appreciate hearing from visitors who can't wait to let others know about their trip to the Tennessee Aquarium and Chattanooga. So our thanks to Martha and Chris for taking the time to send an e-mail to the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to let everyone know how much they enjoyed the area and the Tennessee Aquarium's new boat, The River Gorge Explorer.

My husband Christopher and I would like to tell you about our Wonderful vacation in Chattanooga...We stayed at the Bavarian Inn and visited many of the wonderful attractions there, including Rock City, which I look forward to visiting again! Ruby Falls,The Tennessee Aquarium, and also took a ride on the Explorer. I would like to Thank the Captains of the was so amazing and truly enjoyable...The people of Chattanooga are truly hospitable...and very happy people...We are seriously considering buying a home there or somewhere in the state of Tennessee...God has truly blessed this state as it is one of few that has such gorgeous views and wonderful amazing people...Again we want to thank you and all the wonderful people we met along our adventures for the great time we had...WE WILL MOST DEFINETELY BE BACK TO VISIT AND POSSIBLY TO STAY!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy 100th Birthday Mr. Peck!

Roy Peck from Weaverville, NC celebrated his 100th birthday May 3rd. He is shown in the above picture at the Tennessee Aquarium’s IMAX 3D theater sharing his sense of humor with Charlie Arant, the Aquarium's president and CEO.

Roy came to Chattanooga for his birthday in 1992 when the Tennessee Aquarium first opened.

Roy and his family had a busy birthday weekend. After seeing two IMAX 3D films; they enjoyed dinner at the Station House Restaurant.

The following day Roy and his family toured both Aquarium buildings and enjoyed dinner aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat.

Congratulations Roy! We're glad you came to "The Scenic City" to celebrate with us!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Butterfly in the Sky!

Now that Spring is here, let's talk about butterflies. These distinctive, beautiful creatures come in all sorts of colors and sizes. The largest butterfly is the Queen Alexandria bird-wing butterfly with a wingspan of 12.5 inches. The smallest is the western pygmy blue with a wingspan of just .62 inches.

Butterflies can be found in nearly every kind of habitat from arctic climates to tropical climates. They can even be found here at the Tennessee Aquarium in our Butterfly Garden, located in the Ocean Journey building.

These guys eat honeydew, fruit juice (only 100% real fruit juice, not the kind you buy at the store!), sap, or liquids secreted by dung or decaying animals.

Butterflies and moths are covered with lots of teeny, tiny overlapping scales, that are so small, when stacked on top of one another, it would take half a million of them to equal one inch tall. Now that's tiny!