We were all heartbroken by the devastating floods that struck Nashville earlier this month. For two days at the beginning of May, while we sat high and dry in Chattanooga, torrents of rainfall seemed to be stuck in place over western and middle Tennessee. So when the call for assistance came in from the Nashville Aquarium Restaurant at the Opry Mills Mall, the Tennessee Aquarium husbandry department and curators from the Nashville Zoo were more than willing to lend a helping hand.
One of the most beloved animals of the Nashville Aquarium Restaurant is "Gibson," the giant guitarfish. (That's actually the common name for the species, but it's also fitting for this HUGE animal.) A team of divers were able to rescue "Gibson" and transport him safely to the Tennessee Aquarium's Animal Care Facility in Chattanooga. A special tip of the hat to volunteer divers Kevin Raney and Les Blackford who assisted Landry's curator Kevin Rowe with Gibson’s rescue.
According to Rob Mottice, Tennessee Aquarium senior aquarist, "We couldn't have asked for a better acclimation and adjustment period. Gibson is doing great in his temporary surroundings. All of his swimming and feeding behaviors are absolutely normal." Mottice was part of the team that went to Nashville to rescue Gibson. All other fish and reptiles that survived the flood were relocated to the Nashville Zoo.
Mottice says that Gibson swims up to the side of the tank, stops and looks at any Aquarium staff members who come to visit. Mottice says he may be looking to get some more food. And it's no wonder! Gibson has been served rather tasty gourmet meals since arriving in Chattanooga. He has been feasting upon whole squid stuffed with one whole shrimp and two whole lake smelt. Gibson happily gobbles down four of these seafood-stuffed squid at each feeding. Tennessee Aquarium chefs prepare this haute cuisine five days a week. (All Aquarium animals dine on restaurant quality seafood.)
This diet closely mirrors the diet he was receiving at home in Nashville prior to the relocation.
Gibson's temporary home is a 23,000 gallon, circular tank that is 23 feet in diameter and five feet deep. The top rim of the tank has been fitted with a two foot jump barrier to ensure Gibson's safety.
Gibson shares his temporary home with several brown-banded bamboo sharks, a blue tang and a squirrelfish.
"We appreciate the tremendous support from the community during this unfortunate time,” said James Prappas, Director of Biology Nashville Aquarium Restaurant. “We know Gibson and the other fish and reptiles are in good care and we look forward to their return home at the Nashville Aquarium Restaurant.”
Mottice said, "We're glad we could help out and we're hopeful that Gibson's stay with us is a relatively short one. I'm sure all of his fans in Nashville are ready to see him back home."
We'll keep you posted on when you can see Gibson back home at the Nashville Aquarium Restaurant.