Think about how amazing it is to see an American bald eagle soaring over downtown Chattanooga. Yet almost every day, within eyesight of the Tennessee Aquarium, these majestic birds are seen soaring overhead and even rearing their young. These sightings weren’t always so common.
|Bald eagles seen near downtown Chattanooga from aboard the River Gorge Explorer.|
In short, the law helps ensure that careful planning is in place so that future actions don’t threaten the existence of any listed species or cause the critical habitat of listed species to be destroyed or significantly modified in ways that would jeopardize listed species. The law also prohibits “taking” of any listed species of endangered fish or wildlife.
|American alligator in the Delta Swamp exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium.|
According to a USF&WS press release, today is the day to remind everyone about these animals and the ones that still need a helping hand. “Endangered Species Day provides an opportunity to celebrate our successes and strengthen our partnership with the American public to conserve our shared natural resources,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “By taking action to help our threatened and endangered plants and animals, we can ensure a healthy future for our country and protect treasured landscapes for future generations.”
|Barrens topminnow seen in the River Journey building.|
|Dwarf crocodile seen in the Aquarium's Rivers of the World gallery.|
The Aquarium is also a place where people can see endangered species like Conasauga logperch, Barrens topminnows, West African dwarf crocodile and the beautiful Palawan peacock pheasant. Many of the turtles on display at the Aquarium, like the yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle, are also endangered species. Even in the new River Giants exhibit you’ll find giant pangassius catfish that are listed as endangered species.
|Sandtiger shark seen in the Aquarium's Secret Reef exhibit.|
Many more Aquarium animals are “vulnerable” species like the toothy sandtiger shark, lined seahorse and many of the corals featured in the live coral exhibit within the Boneless Beauties gallery. Look for the status of species on the animal ID graphics near each exhibit on your next visit.
|Tennessee Aquarium senior educator Susie Grant teaches summer campers about American alligators.|
We hope our guests make a connection to these amazing animals while seeing them up close. Those connections help people better understand each of these wonderful creatures and why we should all be eager to protect them.
|Aquarist Matt Hamilton with visitors in the Barrens topminnow lab exhibit.|
So, it’s with the enthusiasm of oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle that we celebrate Endangered Species Day. We can admire truly remarkable species with a special realization that it’s our responsibility to make sure they don’t disappear on our watch. “This is the first time in our history that we are capable of understanding our effect on the Earth’s atmosphere, the chemistry of the ocean, and the biodiversity of life. We’re the only species on the planet that can do something about it.” – Dr. Sylvia Earle