Discovery Hall is a "touching experience"
Tennessee Aquarium gallery will feature lake sturgeon touch station
Tenn. (Jan. 2, 2002) - There's nothing like watching all the beautiful
animals at the Aquarium - the colorful marine fish in the "Gulf
of Mexico" exhibit, the fast-moving trout in the "Cove
Forest" or the enormous catfish of "Nickajack Lake."
But in March 2002, visitors will be able to touch and even feed
prehistoric lake sturgeon in the Aquarium's new "Discovery
interactive touch station will also feature video that helps explain
how the well being of these and other native animals depends on
the stewardship of their human neighbors. Guests will also learn
about the Aquarium's efforts to reintroduce these animals to lakes
in the region.
sturgeon have a prehistoric pedigree and once flourished in the
region. However, due to habitat destruction, over-fishing and
water pollution, they are almost gone from rivers in Tennessee.
These ancient fish possess unusual features such as a cartilaginous
skeleton and a shark-like tail fin. While they may resemble sharks,
present day sturgeon are part of a unique group that has been
around for more than 200 million years.
sturgeon are prized as a sport fish in other areas of the country
where they are making a comeback. They can grow to almost eight
feet in length and weigh about 300 pounds.
released in Tennessee are part of a major, multi-agency effort
to reintroduce these fish to Tennessee. The project brings together
the Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Aquarium and the
World Wildlife Fund. The plan is to release thousands of young
sturgeon in the French Broad River each summer for at least a
decade. Since 2000, nearly 6,000 fish have been released.
sturgeon are raised by Tennessee Aquarium staff in our off-site
hatchery and come from eggs brought from Wisconsin. Aquarium staff
members raise the sturgeon until they are large enough to survive
in the wild. Sturgeon are currently raised by both the Aquarium
and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
re-introduction program has been successful, but it is a long-term
project. Sturgeon can live to be more than 150 years old and don't
reach maturity until they are around 15. Only after these animals
begin to reproduce will officials know if the re-introduction
there is no way to know how many of the fish will survive, a release
of radio-monitored fish in 2000 suggest that the fish can thrive
in the river. Part of this is due to a TVA initiative to improve
water quality in the river.
Benz, director of the Tennessee Aquarium Research Institute, said,
"Working to re-establish a large native fish like the lake
sturgeon is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the thought
of someday seeing large sturgeon swimming in the Tennessee River
system leaves me speechless."