Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spectacular Bald Eagle Sightings

A few weeks ago I was excited to see four bald eagles aboard the River Gorge Explorer. One good sighting is often enough to be inspirational. Imagine being in the Tennessee River Gorge and seeing eight bald eagles in one trip!
Tennessee Aquarium naturalist John Dever sent these shots to share with everyone. During Saturday's Valentine Cruise, John noted more bald eagles than usual. So he made sure he had his camera with him on Sunday's cruise. We're delighted he did. Here's his trip report from Sunday: "Over the weekend I saw at least 8 different individual eagles along the river route. There were five mature and three immature bald eagles spotted. We watched some aerial acrobatics and up close fish feeding as well. We also spotted a Great Egret on Williams Island close to the Heron rookery. That was a fun surprise."

We probably can thank the unusually cold weather for the additional bald eagle sightings in the Gorge. When the winter season is more harsh to our north, these majestic birds head farther south. While our temperatures are expected to recover briefly, we may have more cold weather into early March. So the eagle viewing may be pretty nice for a few more weeks aboard the Explorer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Glacier Cruise Aboard the Explorer

Captain Mike greeted passengers on Saturday, January 30th with a hearty, "Welcome aboard Alaskan Cruise Lines! I think you're going to enjoy today's glacier cruise." He wasn't too far off the mark. Above you see Captain Mike, (left) and Captain Pete (right) before the Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge Explorer departed the Chattanooga Pier on that snowy Saturday.

We don't have many opportunities to see measurable snowfall in downtown Chattanooga, but whenever we do, it's time to grab the camera and head outside.

As Captain Pete pulled away from the Pier, the snowy scenery was a real treat for all on board.

One couple from Birmingham had intended on a weekend in Gatlinburg, but ended up staying in Chattanooga because of slick road conditions the night before. They said they were glad their plans changed and they really enjoyed Captain Mike's "Glacier Cruise" into the Tennessee River Gorge.

The snowy conditions kept cameras clicking. Especially for a group of international educators who were lucky enough to have booked the cruise several months ago. One Egyptian teacher marveled over the scenery while comparing notes on summer heat in the Tennessee Valley and what he experiences in the Middle East.

Naturalist John Dever kept everyone busy with binoculars as well. He pointed out FOUR bald eagles on the cruise. The last sighting turned out to be great viewing for everyone as the eagle was perched on a limb right at the water's edge. (Too bad an excited photographer missed the shot.)

Winter isn't over yet. There may be additional chances to climb aboard the Explorer for another "Glacier Cruise" before the month is over. So pay attention to the weather forecasts and book your seats here:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tennessee Aquarium Groundhog Forecast

The Tennessee Aquarium’s groundhog, Chattanooga Chuck, has issued the following Groundhog Day Forecast:

I strolled within the Tennessee Aquarium’s halls,
To chat about weather with the animals.
The penguins were the first to step up and speak,
“More winter chill would suit our flippers and beaks.”
The butterflies inside Ocean Journey were all a flutter,
“We don’t want more cold,” they all seemed to mutter.
The lizards chirruped and screech owls did hoot,
“We’re worried about snow and more ice to boot.”
The sharks were all mum, but their big, toothy smiles,
Led me to believe winter will be staying awhile.
The tree frogs were singing a different tune,
“We think warmer temps will be coming soon.”
In the Cove Forest the otters were playin’.
Warm or cold? They simply weren’t sayin.’
Thousands of fish including catfish and trout,
Were waiting to hear if my shadow was out.
Some grumpy words came from a long-legged lad,
“It better be spring!” snapped the giant spider crab.
So up on my stump of old hickory,
I looked all around and what did I see?
Another good-lookin’ groundhog, or so it appeared.
Yikes it’s my shadow and back home I disappeared!!!!

Chattanooga Chuck says six more weeks of winter.

Meet him today in the River Journey Auditorium at 11:00 am and 3:15 pm.

You can meet all of the Tennessee Aquarium's weather forecasting critters throughout February.
Visitors will explore the Wild Side of Weather at the Aquarium during special animal encounter programs, keeper talks, dive shows and gallery chats.

Learn more by listening to Rabbit Zielke's "Around and About" report on WUTC-FM: