Monday, July 16, 2012

Mission Aquarius: Living Underwater And Unlocking Secrets

When Tennessee Aquarium visitors have a chance to quiz our SCUBA divers, many want to know what it's like to be underwater with sharks, rays, reef fish and many other creatures. They love to hear our volunteer divers talk about the toothy sharks, fierce-looking arapaima or the diving ducks and turtles in our exhibits. Many people enjoy the sport, drifting weightless like underwater astronauts in "their world," but it's only for a brief amount of time. We are able to explore, but not very deep. And certainly not for very long. So when researchers have an opportunity to stay underwater for extended periods of time as aquanauts, it's only natural that our knowledge of underwater ecosystems expands as well. 

When Dr. Sylvia Earle visited the Tennessee Aquarium in June of 2010, she discussed how living underwater changed her life. "It was then that I really got to know fish," she said. Her first extended trip getting to know the "underwater neighbors" was in the Tektite underwater laboratory and later in the Aquarius underwater laboratory. (You can see her entire Aquarium presentation here. Caution: You will be inspired by this presentation.)
 This week, Dr. Earle is part of Mission Aquarius. She has returned to the underwater station near Key Largo, Florida some 60 feet below the waves to bring awareness to all of the scientific accomplishments  made at this research stationShe is in very good company with other scientists, ocean advocates and filmmakers. And, 14-year-old Ella Van Cleave.
Ella is one of two future marine scientists who were invited to join the Mission Aquarius team after winning a World Oceans Day contest through One World One Ocean. Ella is from Vancouver, British Columbia, but grew up in Chattanooga. The Van Cleave family were long-time Tennessee Aquarium members during their "Chattanooga years." It was during this time that Ella's interest in the natural world was sparked. "We visited the Aquarium every week for several years," said Ella's mom, Elizabeth Van Cleave."And we also went to the beach in Destin, Florida quite a bit. Pretty soon, Ella was foregoing birthdays and asking relatives to donate to animal causes." Ella is already impressing people with her passion for ocean conservation.

And, after spending an extended period of time underwater with Dr. Earle, there's no doubt Ella will be even more passionate about marine biology.

SPECIAL LIVE COVERAGE:  Join the Mission Aquarius Team Tuesday, July 17 at 3pm EST/12pm PST. for a special live-streaming underwater conversation with aquanauts Sylvia Earle and Mark Patterson as they bring us mission updates and talk about their work. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sensational Sustainable Seafood Dinner Series

The Tennessee Aquarium has been working with our Serve & Protect partner restaurants to offer the Sensational Sustainable Seafood Dinner Series. The most recent dinner was held at Broad Street Grille inside the Chattanoogan Hotel.

Participants enjoy great food, informational conversation and a cooking demonstration at each partner restaurant. Carlos Martinez, marketing manager for the Chattanoogan Hotel, was kind enough to provide these images of the Broad Street Grille event.

Each event is hosted by an Aquarium expert who gives diners a brief overview of Serve & Protect and provides insight about sustainable seafood choices and purchasing U.S. caught or raised products. In this case Jackson Andrews, the Aquarium's director of husbandry and operations, had the pleasure of joining fellow diners and meeting Executive Chef Matt Pinner. Everyone truly enjoyed getting acquainted with Chef Pinner and learning a bit about the evenings choices and preparation.

Among the many courses offered were, smoked Georgia Trout cake with green tomato remoulade and crispy skin garnish - shown at the top of this page. Pan seared diver scallop with nutmeg scented Signal Mountain Kohlrabi puree and hydroponic basil coulis - seen above.
Yellow tail snapper en croute with heirloom tomatoes and smokey potato puree was also served - seen above.
A summer berry torte with pistachio crust and fresh cream wrapped up this delightful meal. According to Andrews, the after-glow of this affair will be passed onto family and friends who will learn that wise seafood choices can also be very delectable. "It was a wonderful evening for all," said Andrews. "And I believe the conversation about sustainable seafood - quality product, healthy choices and responsible management of the ocean's resources resonated with our guests."

You're invited! - We have several upcoming dinner events like this one in the coming months.

Seafood Dinner at Blue Water Grille - Register Now
Tuesday, July 17th 6:30pm to 8:30pm

Join Blue Water Grille’s Executive Chef Scott Eiselstein who will prepare a multi-course dinner to delight the senses that features delicious seasonal U.S. caught or raised seafood paired with Mary Hill wines.  A native Chattanoogan, Chef Eiselstein, who has 18 years in the culinary arts, will interact with diners after each course and share recipes from this fresh from-scratch menu.  This event includes dinner, wine pairings, recipes and gratuity.

Thursday, Aug 23rd 6:30pm to 8:30pm

Executive Chef Matt Marcus may be new to Chattanooga, but he is not new to preparing innovative fresh seafood.  Join Chef Marcus at Hennen’s, winner of the 2011 City Scope Readers Choice award in the Best Specific Foods category.  This special night out at Hennen’s will feature a multi-course menu of fresh-caught sustainable seafood paired with a wine pairing to complement each course.  This event includes dinner, wine pairings, recipes and gratuity

Seafood Dinner at 212 Market Restaurant
Thursday, Sept. 27: 6:30 – 8 p.m.

For a memorable dining experience, join us at 212 Market for a delectable dinner with an Asian motif that features sustainable seafood and fresh produce from local farms.  Begin with squid tempura with a sweet & sour dipping sauce followed by Kung Pao Catfish, an adaptation of the spicy Szechuan classic with peanuts, with jasmine rice & stir fry vegetables.  End on a sweet note with roasted apples and house made 5-spiced ice cream.  Dinner includes wine pairings, tax and gratuity.  Please alert us of any special dietary requests a week before the dinner. 

Seafood Tasting Menu at Easy Bistro
Tuesday, Oct. 16: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Easy Bistro offers memorable French bistro dining in a sophisticated setting.  Join Chef Erik Niel and Aquarium staff for a specially designed multi-course tasting menu that showcases sustainably harvested U.S. seafood and fresh local produce.  Sample four of Easy Bistro’s best seafood dishes ending with something sweet for a delicious evening.  Includes tasting menu, fountain drinks or ice tea, tax and gratuity.   Wine, beer and coffee drinks, with appropriate trip, are additional. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July at the Tennessee Aquarium

 The Tennessee Aquarium is saying, "Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue" over the 4th of July weekend.Guests are invited to search for creatures that fit the theme. So here's a few animals to get your "eagle eyes" trained and ready for this patriotic underwater adventure.

The rose sea star can be found in the Boneless Beauties gallery in the Ocean Journey building. You'll find this animal living with another multi-legged creature that is sometimes red, occasionally white, but rarely blue. Can you guess which animal?

 Leucistic alligator gar are ghostly white and stand out among the other impressive fish within the new River Giants exhibit. Learn more about these special fish while watching this video.
 The blue poison dart frog is a visitor favorite. This amphibian can be found feeding next to other colorful frogs in the Discovery Hall gallery in the River Journey building.
When you first enter the Cove Forest exhibit at the top of the River Journey building, you might hear a cardinal calling. Spend a few minutes bird watching in the Cove and you'll also see the bright red feathers of the scarlet tanager.
Many guests find it relaxing to enjoy the gentle ballet performed by moon jellies in the Jellies: Living Art gallery. These sea creatures are white, but according to senior aquarist Sharyl Crossley, they have touches of  red at times. "After I feed them, their stomachs appear red," said Crossley. Look for a fireworks-like display of color in the sea walnuts exhibit.
The blue morpho is one of the largest butterflies in the Aquarium's Butterfly Garden. Tiny scales on their wings give these beautiful insects a patriotic hue.

How many red, white and blue animals can you find at the Aquarium? Or in the IMAX films, "The Last Reef 3D" & "To The Arctic 3D." Bald eagles and other red, white and blue animals can also be seen from aboard the River Gorge Explorer. And our naturalists report the sunset cruises have been really beautiful.

Chattanooga will be an exciting place to be this weekend. The Lookouts are at home with fireworks tonight. Which means it's a double-header of fireworks thanks to the amazing display during "Pops on the River." Then come to the Aquarium Plaza for the 4th of July Night Market. More than 50 local vendors will have their best arts and crafts available. Entertainment begins at 11 am and lasts through 9 pm.