Friday, October 28, 2011

Whooo's Afraid of the Dark? Try These Owl Calls at Home

Halloween is a great time to spotlight some of the nocturnal creatures that many people might hear, but never see. During the Tennessee Aquarium's, "Thrills, Gills and Chills" visitors can stop by Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari for special programs like, "Creatures of the night." Guests might meet 'Blinky' and 'Stan.'

Blinky is an Eastern screech owl. Aquarium aviculturists like Amy Graves and Loribeth Aldrich let visitors know that even though you might not see one of these beautiful birds in your own backyard, you have probably heard them. They sometimes make a sound like a horse whinny.
Stan, the Aquarium's Eurasian eagle owl, has more of a deep hoot when he vocalizes. It really sounds like he's saying "whooo." Eurasian eagle owls are one of the largest owl species in the world, while Eastern screech owls are one of the smallest. It's pretty cool to see these birds brought out during programs to compare sizes.

Amy and Loribeth will also tell you to try calling barred owls in your own backyard. "You don't even have to be very good at it," says Tennessee Aquarium senior aviculturist Amy Graves. Just go out in your backyard in the evening and try hooting rhythmically. Graves says it sounds like someone saying, "Who cooks for you. Who cooks for you all." If you're doing it halfway right, you'll get a response like this:



While that's fun, you might get frightened if you're trying to call to a barred owl and a juvenile great horned owl is in the area. Listen to its chilling call on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

That's nothing. An owl call that will send you running is the barn owl. YIKES!!! I'm outta here!

Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Really Big Reptiles Looking Like Best Friends

 Tennessee Aquarium docent Pete Rittenberry gets credit for these cool images of our alligator and three alligator snapping turtles looking like best friends. The Delta Swamp exhibit is a favorite with our guests and these guys are among the Aquarium's most photographed and perhaps loved creatures. It's a fitting image to show right in the middle of "Thrills, Gills and Chills" since both species are somewhat feared and misunderstood.
Many people think the female American alligator is Queen of this exhibit, but she must know how the male alligator snapper has powerful jaws. While they are sometimes seen in close proximity, as seen in Pete's pictures, the big turtle sometimes chases the alligator out of the water.

One frequently asked question is, "How long can the alligator snapping turtles stay underwater?" Depending on water temperature, these prehistoric-looking turtles can stay submerged for nearly an hour. This video shows how alligator snapping turtles "fish" for a meal.



The Delta Swamp is transformed into a spooky place during the Aqua-Scarium Halloween Party. Come join us on Friday, October 28th.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Party at the Tennessee Aquarium Oct. 28th

 The Tennessee Aquarium's Aqua-Scarium Halloween Party is coming up on Friday, October 28th from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Nothing too scary, just a ton of fun for families in both Aquarium buildings. This party features costumed divers, candy stations, games and a dance floor ready for the "Monster Mash."
 You'll run into a few of the Aquarium's mascots dressed for the occasion. Pose for pictures as you say hello to the Princess Frog, a macaroni penguin dressed as a witch or a fish with fangs.
 It's always fun to see the creative costumes that Aquarium visitors wear for the event. Don't forget the goodie bag. There are plenty of places to pick up something sweet while touring the Aquarium.
 Smiles break out around every corner. Aquarium staffers spend a lot of time decorating for the event.
 Games offer a chance to test your skills for prizes. Sometimes mom or dad take the challenge as well.
 Super-heroes are always a favorite....as well as dressing up like your favorite animal friends.
 Super Mario takes a break with a friend among a colony of painted pumpkin penguins.
 Bean bag toss is always fun and loved by kids of all ages.
 Pre-register by October 26th by going to: https://community.tnaqua.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=521
After October 26th, tickets will be available at the door the night of the event.
 Additional entertainers like this magician add to the evening of fun.
 You'll be a Super-Hero when you bring your kids to the Aqua-Scarium Halloween Party each year.
 Hope to see ye there Mateys!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One World One Ocean & Your Chance to Join an IMAX Crew

A trip to the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater is a truly amazing experience. Audiences can take virtual trips to the bottom of the ocean and to the farthest reaches of the universe. It's always a fun and educational experience, but when you look into the production notes of these films, you begin to gain a full appreciation for how much heart and soul are put into making these films.

Imagine the logistics of getting gear to a distant location at just the right time to capture a specific animal behavior. Then think about moving the gear into position underwater. A huge, somewhat noisy IMAX camera, lighting and perhaps a tripod and extra weights to stabilize the rig against shifting currents. Then just as the camera starts rolling - nature doesn't cooperate. The animal takes off, or like the sea lions in "Under the Sea 3D," decide to spend too much time too close to the lens.

Then imagine how it must feel when the crew gets the perfect shot, or better yet, captures something on film that no one has seen before.
 If you've ever dreamed what it's like to be part of an IMAX film crew, here's your chance to be part of the team on location. The folks at MacGillivray Freeman Films have a contest that will make that dream a reality.
The Ocean Expedition Contest is going to give one lucky person a chance to join the IMAX pioneers and the One World One Ocean team on Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California. This November they'll shoot a new film and capture footage that will help promote a long-term effort to protect the world ocean.

Entering is pretty easy, simply go to the contest expedition page and register to win: http://www.oneworldoneocean.org/page/s/imax-expedition-contest

The contest ends on October 17th, so hurry to register! But keep telling your friends about the One World One Ocean initiative. Here are two videos to give you a little insight into what's troubling our ocean, why you should care and how film can inspire everyone to help.