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!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Magic Rocks" added to Penguins' Rock

The Tennessee Aquarium's gentoo and macaroni penguins have been in Chattanooga just over one year now. They have adjusted well to their new surroundings and the shift to a Northern Hemisphere light cycle. Penguins get cues from the changing length of day throughout the year. This time of year is the onset of their breeding season, so the Aquarium has put out smooth stones that the penguins like to use as nesting materials. These stones are called "magic rocks" because they stimulate nest building and pair bonding if the penguins are ready to mate.

Some of our birds have been parents before, but most would be first-time parents. We don't know if any of our penguins will successfully hatch any chicks or not. Still, it's very fun to watch the penguins preening each other, building nests and appearing to roost. Just imagine how interesting things will get around the Tennessee Aquarium if we have a few baby penguins this summer.