The Tennessee Aquarium:
a journey from the mountains to the sea
Tenn. (January 25th, 2008) – More than
1,500 miles separate the streams of the Appalachian Mountains
from the Gulf of Mexico, but visitors to the Tennessee Aquarium
in Chattanooga can make the trip in just a few hours.
Aquarium’s awe-inspiring, self-guided tour follows
the path of a tiny raindrop from a cove forest high in the
Appalachian Mountains to a colorful coral reef in the blue
depths of the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, Aquarium visitors
see thousands of animals in three living, green forests under
glass and exhibits that teem with life above and below the
“From the free-flying song birds in River Journey’s Appalachian
Cove Forest to Penguins’ Rock and Butterfly Garden in the new Ocean Journey
building, the Tennessee Aquarium combines both freshwater and saltwater habitats
to give visitors an experience unlike any other,” said Charlie Arant,
Tennessee Aquarium president. “Much like the Tennessee
River connects us to the Gulf of Mexico, the Aquarium strives
to connect our visitors to the natural world. Our goal is to
inspire our guests with wonder and appreciation for the natural
The story begins in the Appalachian Cove, where visitors see
whimsical river otters at play and various slithering snake
species from the western Appalachian Mountains and hear the
chirps of small birds. As tiny raindrops from the cove gather
on the flat coastal plains and drain, they become the Tennessee
River, Nickajack Lake and Reelfoot Lake, which are exhibited
in the Tennessee River gallery. Here, guests trod along to
the beat of friendly mountain music and sounds of dripping
water to observe darting, longnose gar and huge, blue catfish
in the freshwater depths.
Next, the river water runs into the swampy Ohio River, which
is captured in the Discovery Hall gallery, where visitors hear
the adorable chirping noises of tiny baby alligators and encounter
strange-looking paddlefish. One of the most unique features
of the gallery is the lake sturgeon touch station - an area
where guests actually have a hands-on encounter with these
prehistoric-looking fish that once ruled the rivers of Tennessee.
As the Ohio River drains into the vast Mississippi River,
which is located throughout the lowlands of the Atlantic Coast,
guests come to the Delta Country gallery, where accordions
play melodically in the background and prehistoric-looking
alligator snapping turtles and swift, hooded merganser ducks
are viewed up close in their swampy homes.
As the freshwater Mississippi River meets the vast saltwater
sea, visitors go under and beyond the waves at the Gulf of
Mexico exhibit to see a snapshot of ocean life with gliding
stingrays and fierce barracuda. Traveling 115 miles south of
Texas and further into the Gulf, visitors experience more colorful
and exciting wonders in the Secret Reef exhibit, which showcases
jaw-dropping, 10-foot sand tiger and sandbar sharks. They can
be viewed from a spectacular, panoramic view in the next exhibit,
the Undersea Cavern, which makes visitors feel as though they
are diving into an underwater cave with views of saltwater
life at every angle.
“Imagine gazing into a coral reef teeming with 10-foot-long sharks, fierce
barracuda and a mosaic of colorful reef fish,” said Jackson Andrews,
Aquarium director of husbandry and operations. “The size and design of
these exhibits give our visitors the chance to experience an ecosystem in a
way that, until now, only divers could.”
In addition to the extraordinary sights seen on the journey
from the mountains to the sea, visitors have a unique opportunity
to view other amazing animals from around the world.
In the Rivers of the World gallery, featuring rivers in Asia,
the Amazon and other parts of the world, piranha, various multi-colored,
lizards and long-necked turtles are seen lurking in their habitats
as sounds of rushing water soothe the senses and geckos blend
with their environment. Next, the Tropical Cove gives visitors
a chance to get up-close and personal as they touch smooth
and sandpaper-like freshwater stingrays and sharks and gaze
at the lovely hyacinth macaw, which inhabits an amazing, lush
forest under glass with rare, brightly-colored flowers from
around the world.
At Penguins’ Rock, visitors enjoy the playful antics
of gentoo and macaroni penguins. These large, cold-climate
birds are comical to watch at times, and simply amazing to
see other times. Whether they are waddling, diving, swimming
or gobbling down seemingly endless amounts of fish, these penguins
are simply fun to be around.
This gallery also features interactive elements that lead visitors
to learn more about all 17 species of penguins and the world
they live in. Larger than life penguin models perched on a
rocky island also offer families a fun photo opportunity.
Visitors also venture into the dimly-lit, mystical “Boneless
Beauties” gallery in the Ocean Journey building, where
many invertebrates swim and play, like the intelligent, bulbous
octopus, as well as graceful, pulsating jellyfish.
“Although these animals share the common trait of having
no internal skeletons, they exhibit a great deal of variety
in appearance and behavior,” said Thom Demas, Aquarium
curator of fishes. “We have the jellyfish – relatively
simple animals with a limited central nervous system – and
then we have the giant Pacific octopus, which has a complex
brain that can even solve puzzles.”
To complete their enriching experience at the Aquarium, guests
can look in awe at the numerous colorful, quirky seahorses
in the “Seahorse: Beyond Imagination” gallery and
get an insiders view of the mythical underwater world of a
school of colorful pipefish in a domed pop-up tank.
They can also tour the tropical paradise of the Butterfly Garden
and watch in fascination as thousands of jewel-like butterflies
dance in mid-air around them as a beautiful waterfall cascades
in a blossoming jungle full of exotic plants and flowers.
“The thrilling journey and the Aquarium’s primary focus on research
and conservation efforts become an educationally rewarding experience for all
who venture through the Aquarium’s depths,” Arant said.
“Drawing nearly one million visitors each year with its colorful, fascinating
sights and enriching, hands-on activities, the Aquarium offers fun for everyone
and touches the hearts and minds of many children and adults alike,” he
The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $19.95 per adult and $12.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $8.50 per adult and $6.00 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $25.95 for adults and $17.95 for children. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits. Call 267-FISH to join.
ONLINE press kits & downloadable images:
press kits & downloadable images: http://www.tnaqua.org/Newsroom/Newsroom.asp