Friday, April 30, 2010

Tennessee Aquarium Earns NWS StormReady Supporter Designation

The Tennessee Aquarium is now StormReady. Left to right: Rodney Fuller, facilities manager, Tennessee Aquarium; Charlie Arant, president & CEO, Tennessee Aquarium; Tim Troutman, warning coordination meteorologist, NWS Morristown, TN; Don Allen, director, Hamilton County, TN Emergency Services

The Tennessee Aquarium has earned the StormReady Supporter designation from the National Weather Service (NWS), increasing safety for visitors and employees. “The StormReady Supporter program encourages businesses and organizations to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations, severe weather safety and awareness," said George Mathews, meteorologist-in-charge of the NWS Forecast Office in Morristown, TN.

The Aquarium already had an extensive safety plan in place. As a StormReady Supporter, an added level of protection is offered to guests and staff. “Visitor and employee safety is our number one priority,” said Rodney Fuller, the Aquarium’s facilities manager. “We have grown over the years, so we wanted to expand our safety plan to include severe weather preparedness to cover everyone from school groups and passengers aboard the River Gorge Explorer to our biologists working on conservation projects in the field.”

To earn the StormReady Supporter designation, an organization must:
1. Have an established Warning Point during hours of operation. 2. Have at least two ways for the Warning Point to receive NWS warnings. 3. Have at least two ways to monitor hydrometeorological data (i.e., NOAA Weather Radio, TV, Internet, etc.). 4. Have at least two ways for the Warning Point to disseminate NWS warnings. 5. Participate by hosting at least one annual weather safety talk per year. 6. Work with county EMA to attend EMA sponsored storm spotter training biennially. 7. Work with county EMA to develop a formal hazardous weather operations plan. 8. Send a representative from StormReady Supporter institution to visit NWS office location biennially. 9. A representative from NWS visits StormReady Supporter institution's location biennially.

Nationally, there are 1,603 StormReady businesses and communities. The Tennessee Aquarium joins the Florida Aquarium and Sea World Orlando as the only aquariums in the nation that have earned the StormReady supporter designation. Other attractions that are StormReady include Disneyland, Disney World, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Talladega Speedway and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

In Tennessee, there are now 54 StormReady designations including UT Knoxville, Vanderbilt University and Hamilton County. “Hamilton County Emergency Services is now pleased to endorse the Tennessee Aquarium as a StormReady Supporter,” said Don Allen, director of Hamilton County Emergency Services. “Knowing that the Aquarium actively promotes severe weather safety awareness activities and has established severe weather safety plans means that not only are visitors to the Aquarium safer in the event of dangerous weather, but our community as a whole is safer and more StormReady.”

Did you know?
According to the National Weather Service, Americans live in the most severe weather-prone country on Earth. Each year, Americans cope with an average of 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 tornadoes, and an average of two deadly hurricanes.

The NWS says 90 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $14 billion in damage.

The StormReady program started in 1999 in Tulsa, OK. Today there are 1,600 locations that have earned StormReady designations.

To learn more about the StormReady program go to:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Penguins' Rock Update

Senior aviculturist Amy Graves says Chaos and Paulie continue to be role model penguin parents. "Both are being textbook parents to their second egg," said Graves. "Like last year, Paulie spends most of the time incubating while Chaos stands nearby." If the egg is viable, the window for hatching would be a few days either side of Memorial Day.

Sweet Pea and Merlin – Last year Tennessee Aquarium visitors noticed that Sweet Pea was very interested in Chaos, Paulie and Pepper. She would spend hours standing near Chaos and Paulie's nest watching the chick. This year, Sweet Pea has an egg of her own. Graves says Sweet Pea is turning out to be a very good mother, but Merlin is not a diligent dad. "He’ll lay near the egg, next to the egg and he'll even occasionally step on the egg, but he won’t incubate it properly," said Graves. While Sweet Pea is doing a great job incubating, keepers don’t expect this egg to hatch. They will leave this egg on exhibit with Sweet Pea and Merlin as long as it remains intact, which should lead to better parenting skills next season.

Gentoo penguins Biscuit and Blue may be up to something. They were the first gentoos with eggs last year. And Graves has noticed Blue staying at the nest site and protecting it. He normally heads for the water when keepers are around. So this behavior may indicate that Biscuit is getting ready to lay an egg.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crazy Like a Fox?

Nipper, the male gentoo penguin seen above, has some interesting ideas about nest building. If you watch him at the Tennessee Aquarium closely throughout the day, you'll observe him taking rocks and dropping them in the food pan. None of the other birds seem interested in building a nest in the pans full of fish, but maybe Nipper thinks, "Why not build a nest here? That's where all the food is. After all, once my nest is complete, I can simply lounge around comfortably and not have to go out to eat." But later yesterday afternoon Nipper was seen taking rocks OUT of the food pan and building a nest near the keeper door. So maybe he's just marinating the rocks so his nest will smell like fish. What do you think? Is Nipper smarter than the average gentoo or just being silly?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Backrow Film Series - "The End of the Line"

The Arts and Education Council of Chattanooga will show "The End of the Line" as the first part of their Back Row Film Series. The Chattanooga premiere of "The End of the Line" will be in the Tennessee Aquarium River Journey Auditorium on Thursday, May 6th at 6:00 pm.

This film is described as, "the first documentary to spotlight the devastating effects of overfishing. Advances in fishing technology mean whole species of wild fish are under threat and the most important stocks we eat are predicted to be in a state of collapse by 2050. The film points the finger at those most to blame, including celebrity chefs, and shows what we can do about it. This is not just a film, it is also a campaign - for sustainable consumption of fish, for marine protected areas to allow the sea to recover, and for a new ethic of responsible fishing."

Tickets for this special film screening are $10 for the general public, $5 for Tennessee Aquarium members.

Purchase tickets for "The End of the Line" online at:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Macaroni penguin eggs at the Tennessee Aquarium

(Above) Paulie is seen protecting his mate's first egg of 2010.
(Above) Paulie and Chaos have been very diligent penguin parents in the past, raising last year's chick Pepper. So far they have kept their first egg 48 hours. Last year, they crushed their first egg in the nest within a day.
Wow! The Tennessee Aquarium's gentoo and macaroni penguins just received the rocks they use to build nests on April 1st and there have already been four eggs laid! All of them are macaroni eggs, so don't get too excited about baby penguins just yet. As our penguin keepers explain, macaroni penguins usually have a clutch of two eggs. But the first egg is about 60 percent smaller than the second egg that is laid. Macaronis will usually boot the first egg out of their nest or crush it. This seems to be nature's way of focusing efforts on the egg with the greatest chance of survival to adulthood.
Gentoo penguins on the other hand, lay eggs of roughly the same size. It's possible that a gentoo pair could raise two chicks in one season. So far, the gentoos have been a little more leisurely about building nests and laying eggs. However, aviculturists Amy Graves and Loribeth Aldrich believe that since a few eggs are showing up in the exhibit, more nest building and courtship will be taking place.
Here are the first three installments of the Tennessee Aquarium's "Love on the Rocks - Season Two" webisodes. This will help catch you up on what's turning out to be a rather fast-paced nesting season.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You're Invited to the Aquarium's "Party for the Planet"

We're looking forward to this year's Party for the Planet Earth Day celebration at the Tennessee Aquarium. This Saturday, April 24th from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm we'll have family fun and conservation information outside on the Aquarium Plaza and within both River Journey and Ocean Journey. Here are a few scenes from last year's event.

Face painting was very popular. Whether it was butterflies or penguins, every smile was a little bigger after these artists finished their work.

The plaza outside the Aquarium fills with people and conservation booths.

Animal Encounter specialist Lindsay Reynolds brought out a ball python for visitors to meet up close.

The day started off with the "Walk the Talk" cleanup. It was a lot of fun watching the youngsters picking up litter. They're learning valuable lessons about keeping the environment clean.

CUDA Club members made a splash during an underwater cleanup of the Tennessee River across from the Aquarium. It's amazing what the SCUBA divers bring up from the depths. Thanks to them, the waterway is much cleaner.

Party for the Planet is just plain fun! Catch a little bit of the flavor by watching this video from last year's event.

Follow this link for complete event details:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Next Time - Bring Your Bike

Chattanooga has been named one of the top 50 bike-friendly cities by Bicycling magazine: I wish they would have used the image above for their article.
Seriously, the Chattanooga area has a lot of great riding opportunities. The one mentioned in Bicycling, and pictured above, is the Tennessee Riverwalk. This route runs right behind the Tennessee Aquarium and hugs the Tennessee River's south shoreline for more than 10 miles to the Chickamauga Dam. You'll enjoy great views of the river and several shady spots away from the water's edge. This isn't a ride for speedsters however. There are lots of walkers and joggers sharing the Riverwalk. But there's ample room for all if everyone behaves.
So bring your bikes on your next trip to Chattanooga. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Weekend Bunny Encounters at the Tennessee Aquarium

Our animal encounter specialists will give children a special opportunity to meet, and touch, an American Sable rabbit this weekend. The Sable is a domestic rabbit species. Children will learn the difference between domestic and wild rabbits. They will also learn that rabbits have wonderful adaptations. Their cute noses, beautiful eyes and soft ears are very special features, helping them sense the world around them.

These Sable rabbit animal encounter programs will be delivered this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 2 – 4 in the River Journey lower lobby near the Seahorse Gallery. Two Sable programs will be offered each day at 10:00 am and 2:30 pm.

Meet other fascinating species during animal encounter programs every hour of every day in both Aquarium buildings.

Learn more about the Tennessee Aquarium's animal encounters here: