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.