Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Penguins Preparing for Nesting Season at the Tennessee Aquarium

Preparations begin this week for penguin nesting season at the Tennessee Aquarium. Tomorrow, the pool will be dropped in order for aquarium staff to clean the exhibit and give each animal a quick health exam – leaving the penguins exhibit closed for the day.

When their space is fully prepared and each penguin is given a clean bill of health, rocks will be placed inside the exhibit for the penguins to begin their nesting (around April 1). During this time, the penguins will build nests, woo their mates and get ready to lay eggs. 

Once the rocks are placed in the exhibit, kids can watch the nest building process first hand during the Behind the Scenes Penguin Peek – part of our Keeper Kids spring break program running now through April 15. Visitors can also get a closer look at this process during our Breakfast with the Penguins event on Saturday, April 6, when nesting behavior will be in full swing.

Check back here soon for updates and keep your fingers crossed for new chicks to be welcomed at the Tennessee Aquarium later this year!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baby Sharks Hatch at the Tennessee Aquarium

Cute is not normally a word that is used to describe sharks, but most people haven't had the opportunity to see shark pups before. And these baby Epaulette sharks are adorable.

Two new additions have hatched at the Tennessee Aquarium in the past two weeks. The most recent was a male, (shown in the image above) the Aquarium's eleventh Epaulette pup. He hatched from a egg laid in the Stingray Bay touch tank on October 17th, 2012. That is a little bit longer than most of his siblings. They hatched in about 130 days. Even though he spent four more days snuggled up inside a "Mermaid Purse," another name given to the leathery egg case, he still had some of his yolk sac still attached. (It's the yellowish object seen below the shark in the top image.) This also occurred with his sister. Keepers believe this is because the most recent eggs were kept in an exhibit with slightly cooler water than the tank used to house the siblings.
 The females hatched earlier this summer are larger and darker than their youngest sister. These sharks do swim, but prefer to use their pectoral fins to "walk" along the bottom searching for food.
The adults can be seen in the Stingray Bay touch tank in the Aquarium's Tropical Cove. If you're lucky, one will venture close enough to be gently touched. Like other sharks species, their skin is rough and feels somewhat like sandpaper.

Here's video of one of our first Epaulette shark pups hatching.