Thursday, April 30, 2009

Congratulations Soddy Daisy High School

A big congratulations to the Soddy Daisy High School Band. They will represent the area in the 2010 Tournament of Roses Parade. Band director Eric Majors is a Tennessee Aquarium member who normally visits River Journey and Ocean Journey with his family. We were honored to have Majors, Angel & Jeff Throop along with Soddy Daisy Band Booster President Michelle Bowman visit yesterday. Mr. Throop is the President Elect of the Tournament of Roses Parade. Prior to being elected to serve as Association President, Throop had been a Tournament of Roses volunteer since 1974.
(Pictured above from right to left: Eric Majors, Angel and Jeff Throop, and Michelle Bowman.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Special Sleep in the Deep Coming Up

Treat your mom like a queen angelfish by celebrating Mother's Day at the Tennessee Aquarium during a special Sleep in the Deep program.

Friday, May 8, 6:00 p.m. - Saturday, May 9, 8:30 a.m.

Celebrate Mothers Day this year with your family by sleeping under the sea at the Tennessee Aquairum in Chattanooga, Tenn. Discover some darling, newly born baby animals and celebrate their mothers too! You will enjoy critter encounters, explore behind the scenes, see Under the Sea 3D at the IMAX and watch the courtship antics of our penguins. Sleep in the Undersea Cavern of Ocean Journey, while sharks and thousands of colorful fish swim over and around you. Includes overnight, IMAX movie, guided tours, special activities, pizza and continental breakfast.

Families with children ages 6 and older accompanied by an adult
$60 per person (Members: $50 per person)

Register now at:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Scenes from the Aquarium's Party for the Planet

This Saturday's Party for the Planet was a lot of fun. Plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures helped a festive atmosphere at the Tennessee Aquarium on Saturday. Here are a few snapshots from the event.

Face painting was popular under the arch in front of the Aquarium. This cutie chose a pink striped heart. A couple of kids chose to have renderings of our planet for Earth Day.
Lots of children enjoyed posing with the Discovery Channel's "Sharkey" and the Aquarium's "Mac" the penguin.

Free Mayfield ice cream was a great addition to Party for the Planet.

Animal encounter specialist Lindsay Reynolds gets wrapped up in a snake presentation.

Divers from the Chattanooga Underwater Divers Association picked up trash underwater in the Tennessee River across from the Aquarium Saturday morning.

Thanks Comcast and all of our Party for the Planet participants!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Magic Moment

Thanks to Ashley from Crossville, TN for sharing one of her photos with everyone. She was one of the participants in the SkillsUSA competition which was recently held in Chattanooga. A group of high school photographers came to Ocean Journey to capture the best "Kodak Moments" in one hour. This is a great shot considering Ashley's story of how active this young man was inside the Aquarium's Butterfly Garden: "When I took this picture, I took it as an accident. This little boy was running around and looking at all the butterflies. He seemed to be having a blast."

Don't miss our "Party for the Planet" Earth Day celebration Saturday, April 25th from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shhhhh! First Video From Inside New Gallery

A spy has been captured inside Jellies: Living Art at the Tennessee Aquarium. A video camera was discovered on the individual after they were apprehended. Fortunately, the memory card was confiscated before the spy could post it on the Internet for everyone to see before the Grand Opening.

Here's a portion of the bootleg video we uncovered. Perhaps the swarm of moon jellies distracted the person orchestrating this clandestine operation just long enough for security to swoop into action and foil this caper.

Jellies: Living Art opens at the Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum of American Art on May 15Th.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's Not a Fish Story If You Have The Pictures

WOW! Take a look at the pictures Berry Fraley sent in from this weekend's "Fishing for the Big Ones" Aquarium trip. It was a catch and release outing on a beautiful day.
Here's what Berry has to say about a day on the river:
"The Tennessee River is a wonderful River system that offers fishermen a chance to catch many species of fish along it's banks. Nickajack Lake and dam is just 15 minutes West of Chattanooga and is one of the many crown jewels of the Tennessee River system. It offers many scenic views from the River Gorge, and the River Park and has a fishery second to none. The Nickajack tail waters offer some of the best striper fishing in the south. Steve Brandon (top photo) and Neal Waggoner (bottom photo) with a couple of good sized Rock Fish taken during The Tennessee Aquarium sponsored fishing trip."
By the way, guide Berry Fraley of Big Fish Guide Service is no stranger to Nickajack Dam. He guides for these monster Rock fish and Hybrids from early March through late October. Check out his website at:

Easy Way to Settle a Wager.

Plenty of people hear the infamous penguin-nabbing urban legend. And some are busting the myth for friends and relatives after checking out our video on YouTube:

We want to thank Jennifer from Chattanooga for sharing her story about doing a little "myth-busting."

"I thought you might find it amusing that a co-worker of mine just came in and told me his wife called him on his lunch break today with an amazing story. She is a hairdresser and one of her clients told her that a friend of hers had a son go missing at the aquarium for over an hour while on a school field trip. They looked high and low and couldn't find him anywhere, but then he just came walking into the main lobby giggling. He told everyone he was hiding. On the way home the boy opened up his backpack in the car and to his poor mother's horror, there was a baby penguin inside that he had stolen right from the aquarium. This client claims to have seen it with her own eyes when her friend called her in hysterics. My coworker's eyes were huge as he was telling me this story and he was just in awe that something like this could happen. I told him it was a hoax and he said it totally wasn't because this lady knew all about it first hand."

"I pulled up the youtube penguin napping video and showed it to him. He felt pretty silly for falling for it. Hahaha, it amazes me what people will believe as fact from a 4th hand account."


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Celebrating a Conservation Milestone

Recently, first grade students from Normal Park Elementary helped the Tennessee Aquarium and Tennessee River Gorge Trust celebrate a conservation landmark.

Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters collected from the coin drop in the Aquarium’s River Journey building have now added up to $250,000 since the coin drop was installed on Earth Day in 1996. As the Normal Park Elementary students learned, this money helps support the Tennessee River Gorge Trust’s efforts to preserve Tennessee’s Grand Canyon. “This milestone is symbolic of how small, individual conservation efforts can produce huge, collective results,” said Charlie Arant, Tennessee Aquarium President and CEO. “We are pleased to help the Tennessee River Gorge Trust protect vital habitat in Chattanooga’s backyard.”

TRGT’s Executive Director, Jim Brown, agrees. “The Tennessee Aquarium's "coin drop" concept to fund local habitat conservation within the Gorge has reaped dividends beyond our wildest dreams.” “With each roll of the coin, visitors to the Aquarium have converted their spare change into forests, flowers, and abundant wildlife.”

Miss McCoy’s and Miss McTier’s students were at the Aquarium to study the Rivers of the World and Ocean Journey exhibits as part of their nine-week unit on rainforests. These students were surprised to learn that the Tennessee River Gorge could be considered a temperate rainforest because of the vast array of plants and animals found just downstream from Chattanooga.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"The Cold and the Beautiful"

Yesterday we checked in on the budding romance seen on the Tennessee Aquarium's live web cam channel. The program we watched yesterday, "The Young and the Rockless," revolved around young love in the macaroni world. Today we tune into GTV, the gentoo channel, for the premiere episode of what we’ll call…”The Cold and the Beautiful.”

The Gentoo Penguins are a little older and therefore appear to have their act together in terms of couples. Peep and Poncho are a very cute pair and are often seen sitting together on their nest. Peep is one of the few penguins experienced in raising a chick (although not with Poncho) so we are hopeful this new couple will have a successful nesting season. Blue and Biscuit, another Gentoo couple who have raised chicks in the past, are often see bowing their heads together and then stretching their necks in a very sweet and common courtship behavior.

Then there is Nipper. Nipper is young and obviously inexperienced. He appears to be curious as to why everybody is sitting on a pile of rocks. So when they leave to go get a bite of food or take a swim, he tests out their nest by sitting on it. It is only a matter of time before the nest owner shows up and chases him off. Flower, a female gentoo, seems to be a little sweet on Nipper, but so far he is clueless (face it ladies – we’ve all met this guy, haven’t we?)

The other Gentoo couple is Big T and Bug. This is the obviously young and carefree couple that obviously knows the logistics of how to make an egg, but have failed to build a nest to put the egg in when it arrives – so they will be very entertaining to watch in the coming weeks.

Check the penguin cam often, not only can you watch them eat lunch or take a swim, you might just catch a disagreement over nest placement and or available mates! And if you can solve the mystery of who’s been putting nesting rocks in the food pan – please let us know.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Young and the Rockless

Here is a picture of Shamrock selecting the perfect rock for her nest.

Spring makes for very interesting observations at Penguins’ Rock. Don’t get me wrong – it’s always entertaining, but with the addition of nesting materials (rocks) on April 1, the exhibit has become much more amusing than normal. In fact, some might jokingly refer to it like an animal soap opera. And keep checking back, since we are still early in the season, all pairs listed below are subject to change in coming weeks.

So here is today’s installation of what we’ll call…"The Young and the Rockless"

Most of the Macaroni’s are young and inexperienced in the ways of love (ie. nest building and mating). So, this makes for some interesting interactions to say the least. Hercules is really the one to watch and trust me, he is very busy these days. Over the last 2 weeks he has been courting three macaroni females; Little Debbie, Shamrock and Sweet Pea. He is currently only sitting on a nest with Shamrock but don’t be fooled, he has been caught preening Sweet Pea from time to time when Sharmock is taking a dip in the pool.

Other Macaroni couples from last spring are Pauley and Noodle as well as Chaos and Iggie. We’re not sure how the initial break-ups occurred but as it stands today, Pauley and Chaos appear to be a couple as do Noodle and Iggie. Apparently, since all these birds are still fairly young, it is not uncommon for them to switch mates from season to season. As they become older and more experienced, they will tend to stick with one mate (sound familiar?). The humorous part here is that Iggie, evidently still has a thing for Chaos as he is preening her when Pauley’s not looking and today, she was preening Iggie while Pauley had his back turned. Hmmm… obviously these pairs are yet to be determined.

And, if you’re wondering we do still have some singles out there including Merlin the Macaroni who was with Little Debbie last year but is still stacking rocks and ‘working the room’ at this point.
Stay tuned as we channel surf for gentoo updates tomorrow on "The Cold and the Beautiful."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lucky Duck Images

Thanks to Jennifer Homa at Erlanger Medical Center for sending more on "Baroness."
We had a "patient" that evidently thought we took such great care of her last year, she thought she would return this year!

Momma Duck "aka Baroness" returned! Or, so we believe it is the same momma duck. After some quick Googling, we understand females return to the same nesting spot year after year! You can only imagine what this means for us every spring during her life expectancy (ranging 8 to 10 years)!

She was spotted about a week ago hunkered down in the general vicinity as last year. She was VERY well hidden. No one knew for sure how long she had been here until last weekend. We missed the incubation by about three weeks. Sandy Hughes, one of our nurses in the Emergency Department who was watching over Baroness since she was found, announced that seven of the nine eggs hatched on Good Friday. By Saturday evening, Baroness and her seven ducklings “checked out” on their own for a new home near the water.

The notification of her visit, eggs hatching, and “patient discharge” happened so quickly, we were unable to get a good picture of her…and the babies.

The View From The Other Side

The Tennessee Aquarium won a terrific underwater camera from IMAX for our recent "Under the Sea 3D" marketing campaign. So we had an opportunity to "test drive" the camera in the Aquarium's Secret Reef exhibit Monday evening. This couple above appeared to be enjoying their visit and posing for the diver/photographer.

People were not the only ones getting a little "face time."

Check out this finny camera ham:
Be sure to click the red "HD" icon to view it in high defintion.

We'll post some more in-tank video soon, so keep watching. Thanks again IMAX! :)

By the way....Jellies: Living Art opens one month from today on May 15th!!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Great Blue Heron Snags Lunch On The Fly

This great blue heron was spotted catching lunch on the fly from aboard the River Gorge Explorer. Two herons were flying along when this one suddenly changed course and dipped down to snatch a fish. Herons spend much of their time stalking meals along the shoreline, so it was a bit of a surprise to see this one acting like an osprey.

There's just a little time remaining to snatch a great deal: From now until April 19th, The River Gorge Explorer Early Bird Special – is just $20 per person when you book the 10:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. cruise in advance. Call 1-800-262-0695 for your reservation and mention the "Early Bird Special".

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cumberland River Sturgeon Release This Friday

If you live near the Nashville area and would like to see a conservation program at work, you might want to stop by the Cumberland River to see lake sturgeon being released. Learn more here:

Mallard Mother Has Seven Babies at Erlanger

Sometimes animals will do something unexpected that surprises even the experts. Last year, a female mallard decided that the Liriope, or "monkey grass" near the Emergency Room entrance at Erlanger Medical Center was a suitable nesting location. She had plenty of folks watching over her progress while she incubated her eggs. When the babies came, one of the Aquarium's bird experts, Kevin Calhoon was called in to help relocate the family to more suitable surroundings. Guess what? Momma Mallard returned to the same spot this year and seven babies hatched on Friday! The family moved out on Saturday, hopefully to a more favorable location similar to where Kevin Calhoon moved Momma Mallard last year. Here are Kevin's thoughts on this "lucky duck."

The female Mallard (I use the term “Mallard” loosely because this bird was of domesticated origin, its plumage was not that of a wild Mallard.) built her nest in a planter containing monkey grass (ornamental) next to the Erlanger Emergency room entrance. The nest was very well hidden, lined with down, and when she was done laying contained 14 eggs (most mallards usually lay 8 – 12 eggs). The eggs started to hatch approximately 30 days after she began incubating which is after the last egg is laid. The staff looked after the nest feeding the hen bread and observing her daily. I instructed them to me know when the first duckling began to hatch so they family could be moved to a safe location near water. Mallards take their young to the water soon after they are all hatched. I placed the whole family in a cardboard box (luckily we caught all fourteen ducklings which are very quick!) and transported them to Amnicola Lake at the greenway off of Amnicola Highway where I released them in the weeds next to the water. She immediately led her young to the waters edge and they disappeared. Mallards do tend to go back to the same areas to nest year after year, but I expected this hen to stay at Amnicloa Lake which is 2-3 miles from Erlanger to nest this year because it is a much safer and more suitable area BUT I WAS WRONG!!!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Distinguished Guests Aboard The Explorer

Congressman Zach Wamp and Senator Lamar Alexander were aboard the River Gorge Explorer yesterday to tour the Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District.
It was fascinating to hear from Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Superintendent Shawn Benge and National Park Historian Jim Ogden talk about the area and plans for the park's interpretive center.

Learn more from the following news links:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ospreys are Nesting Again

Brad and Kittie Palmer shared this image of the ospreys who were nesting in the Tennessee River Gorge last year. Throughout the summer months, passengers aboard the River Gorge Explorer were thrilled to get close up views of these magnificent birds. Many times you could see one parent on the nest and the other in a nearby tree watching over the site. Aquarium naturalist John Dever says the parents have rebuilt the nest on top of the channel marker. Captain Pete Hosemann said there was a awesome sighting of one of the parents stretching its wings today before taking off. When that bird left the nest, its mate flew in to sit on the eggs. Dever recalls how much fun it was seeing the chicks go from hatchlings to fledglings to catching their first fish last year. We'll try to keep everyone updated as this spring and summer roll on.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Shark Lady" Dr. Eugenie Clark

We are honored to have Dr. Eugenie Clark at the Tennessee Aquarium this evening to present, "Sea Monsters I Have Known," a special lecture about some of the amazing creatures she has studied underwater. Dr. Clark is known by many as the "Shark Lady" for her body of work studying different shark species. She is the founder of Florida's Mote Marine Laboratory and remains an active diver and researcher.

Dr. Clark's family took her to the Battery Park Aquarium in New York when she was a child. This was all the inspiration she needed to devote her life to learning more about marine life and educating others about the world's oceans.

She has been an inspiration to many people throughout her career, including underwater filmmaker Nick Caloyianis. Nick is always quick to name Dr. Clark as his friend and mentor whenever he talks about his career and underwater adventures. Nick and Eugenie are seen above in the famous "Peter Gimble Shark Cage" at the Tennessee Aquarium. Also pictured are Nick's partner and underwater filmmaker/photographer Clarita Berger and Dr. Clark's son, Tak Konstantinou.

Register for tonight's event at:

Dr. Eugenie Clark's official website:

Gentoo Courtship - You Take My Breath Away

While the macaroni penguins have a relatively flamboyant courtship display with loud calling and swinging heads, the gentoo penguins are a bit more subtle. There is some calling, but one of the more interesting rituals is a greeting the starts with a bow. Two birds that may be attracted to one another will dip their heads low to the ground and then bring their heads up while opening their beaks and exhaling. It's almost as if they're saying to each other, "You take my breath away."

Here's what senior aviculturist Amy Graves had to say about the Tennessee Aquarium's gentoo penguins and their reactions to the "magic rocks."

"In the gentoo world, all of the same pairs from last year seem to be holding strong. There were four individuals that were just too young last year and never paired up. They really didn’t know what was going on. But this year, I think they’re starting to feel the 'tingle in their toes' and getting a little bit of excitement from the rocks. They might pair up this year or just play around in the rocks."

"Of the four youngest gentoos, Big T has been courting Bug and that leaves Flower with Nipper, which I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not because Nipper is just Nipper. He’s always underfoot and he’s always into something. Nipper was the first gentoo to pick up a rock this morning and he plunked it down right in the middle of the food pan. Last year, he dropped a rock right into the pool. If Flower and Nipper choose to get together that will be great, but I haven’t seen any courtship behavior between them. So it may just be Big T and Bug this year out of those four and Nipper and Flower may wait until next year. They are just getting started, so they don’t really know what to do just yet. They are watching the other penguins busy selecting rocks and they think they need to be doing something but they are not quite sure what that is yet."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Drama Begins

The Tennessee Aquarium's penguins were given their "magic rocks" for nesting this morning. And as soon as the delivery was complete, the birds began constructing nests. It turned out to be a rather noisy party as the macaronis began calling loudly in very excited courtship displays.
Here's how senior aviculturist Amy Graves described today's drama:
"Hercules has been an active boy all day long. He has had three girls in his nest at some point today, so I have no idea who he’s going to end up with. He started out with Little Debbie this morning. When we first put the rocks out they were calling and building. Then Little Debbie got chased away by Shamrock which is Hercules’ mate from last year. They were building and calling for most of the day. Then right around 1:30 this afternoon right as I was doing a penguin show from inside the exhibit, Shamrock got booted out of the nest by Sweet Pea. Shamrock ended up in the food bowl from the scuffle and Lori Beth Aldrich had to lift her out of the pile of fish. Sweet Pea has always been waiting in the shadows hoping for her chance with Hercules. So the macaronis are all up in the air right now. Give them a couple of days to see which birds settle down with each other. They seem to be going back to their mates from last year. Even though last year wasn’t a strong bonding season since they didn’t lay eggs, it might have been a strong enough bonding season to pull them back together now. We’ll just have to see how it all plays out. But it was a pretty good first day. A little bit crazy on the macaroni side, but a lot of fun to watch."
Stay tuned for more updates from Penguins' Rock.