Aquarium main galleries
and special exhibits
Tenn. (January 25th, 2008) – Imagine a single
raindrop that flows from a mountaintop stream to a chattering
creek, travels into a lazy river and finally joins a vast ocean.
The Tennessee Aquarium offers an up-close look at the habitats
found along this amazing journey.
The Aquarium tells the story of water through exhibits in the
River and Ocean Journey buildings, which feature many different
types of freshwater and saltwater wildlife. Not only do visitors
explore habitats found in North America and the Gulf of Mexico,
they also experience habitats from around the watery world. In
addition, the Aquarium showcases several special exhibits, which
contain a variety of exotic plant and animal life.
The Appalachian Cove Forest in the River Journey building recreates
the mountain source of the Tennessee River. This living recreation
of a cove hardwood forest mirrors the current season with deciduous
trees, blossoming plants and animal activity.
entering, visitors are surrounded by an ancient forest; the sounds
of chirping birds, a cascading waterfall and whimsical river otters
splashing around. The forest is remarkably realistic; its air
is moist and thick; its trees are filled with birds; its streams
and pools are inhabited by fish; and amphibians and reptiles find
refuge in hollow logs. Light in the forest changes with the time
of day, and plant life changes with the seasons.
The cove features several types of trout, North American river
otters, beautiful cardinals and a copperhead snake. Also, visitors
can see free-flying songbirds, including year-round and migratory
species, and observe a colorful landscape highlighted by rhododendrons,
azaleas and wildflowers.
As Appalachian raindrops merge and begin to trickle into streams,
they eventually reach the Tennessee River. The river has been
carefully controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) since
the 1930s and is a reservoir system harnessed by 35 dams. The
Tennessee River gallery in River Journey examines the river, comparing
the wild Tennessee with these new, man-made environments.
mountain music filling the air and enormous pictures capturing
the natural beauty of East Tennessee, this gallery has three major
exhibits to explore: Nickajack Lake, Reelfoot Lake and "Turtles:
Nature's Living Sculptures."
Lake was once shoreline and was created by TVA in the 1930s to
reduce flooding and provide a reliable source of drinking water
for the state’s citizens. The Nickajack Lake exhibit is
25 feet deep and contains more than 30 species of fish, including
sunfish, which are found at its shorelines, and the bass and catfish
that swim in its depths. Some of the Aquarium's most loveable
and comical inhabitants play here: the diving ducks, which "perform"
for visitors by diving for food, then bob like corks to the surface.
Lake is perhaps the most unusual lake in the United States. It
was formed in 1812 as the result of a massive earthquake centered
under New Madrid, Mo. The quake's force caused 18,000 acres of
cypress swamp to sink 10 feet to form a basin that was covered
by water as the Mississippi River briefly ran upstream. The Reelfoot
Lake exhibit includes turtles, amphibians that live on the lake's
shores and larger fish, like bass, bowfin and paddlefish that
inhabit the exhibit's open water.
can also wander through the world’s largest collection of
freshwater turtles, known as the "Turtles: Nature's Living
Sculptures" gallery, and stare in amazement at the architecture
of a variety of turtle shells from around the world. The exhibit
provides a small sample of the remaining 260 turtle species on
the planet. They can see the unusual pancake tortoise, snake-necked
turtle and Chinese big-headed turtle, with its parrot-like beak,
while learning how to determine a turtle's age and how temperature
establishes its sex. The exhibit also features a turtle nursery
of several baby turtles from around the world, like the chicken
turtle and black-breasted leaf turtle. Each turtle in the nursery
was hatched at the Aquarium and is carefully monitored while maturing
as part of the Aquarium's conservation efforts to maintain turtle
As the water from the Tennessee River meets the Ohio River and
empties into the mighty Mississippi, a moist, swampy environment
is created. In River Journey's Discovery Hall visitors explore
the humid, damp habitats of the Southeast region, as tiny alligators
and a variety of tree frogs chirp and call.
instrumental bluegrass music in the background, guests explore
an underwater world where vibrantly colored sunfish float like
jewels or peek into the swamp nursery where baby alligators bask.
They can also reach out and touch an ancient-looking lake sturgeon
that once ruled the rivers of Tennessee in a unique touch exhibit.
addition, visitors can get an up-close look at the strange, spatula-shaped
snout of the paddlefish and the huge claws of the painted river
prawn to learn about their adaptations. Also, they can see the
nation's largest salamander, the hellbender, which breathes through
its skin and uses its lungs as flotation devices.
The Mississippi Delta Country gallery in the River Journey building
examines the final leg of the water's journey as it slows in the
Mississippi River to meet the Gulf of Mexico. Often perceived
as a land of stagnation, the re-created cypress swamp is actually
a virtual river of trees.
proceed along the boardwalk in this exhibit to see animals like
the extraordinarily large alligator snapping turtle, red-bellied
turtles and American alligators slosh through the swampy waters
amidst a tangle of tree trunks, vines and hanging moss. Bowfin,
bass and sunfish swim in the shallow pools while herons patrol
As the Mississippi pours into the open ocean it joins with the
Gulf of Mexico. In this River Journey exhibit, visitors view large
cross-sections of transitional area. Green moray eels and small
reef fish hide among the mangrove roots while colorful yellow
snapper, southern stingrays and silvery barracuda glide gracefully
through the deeper waters of this exhibit. The Gulf of Mexico
contains creatures of all shapes and sizes, including more than
40 species of fish and a green sea turtle. This exhibit also features
exotic creatures like the snake-like green moray eel and the small
bonnethead shark, which resembles a tiny version of the looming
A bit further into the blue depths of the ocean, about 115 miles
south of Texas, an exotic, multi-colored coral environment teems
with life. This reef system, the Flower Garden Banks National
Marine Sanctuary, is the northernmost reef in North America and
is inspiration for the Secret Reef exhibit in the Aquarium’s
new Ocean Journey building.
the exhibit, the beautiful coral formations are artificial mimics
of the Flower Garden Banks, and the conditions of the exhibit
are carefully monitored by the staff.
depicted in a gallery with mystical, underwater music, this exhibit
features the Aquarium’s most jaw-dropping animals: toothy,
10-foot, sand tiger sharks. In addition, guests can watch in amazement
as thousands of smaller reef fish swim about, like the beautiful
queen angelfish and famous dark blue, black and neon yellow blue
tang. Like the animals in the actual Flower Garden Banks reef
system, the smaller fish in the exhibit tend to stay close to
the reef formations. Meanwhile the larger, open-ocean animals,
such as the sleek sandbar sharks and robust Crevalle jacks, swim
shows take place each day in the Secret Reef at 11 and 11:30
a.m. and 2 and 2:30 p.m.
The adventure continues as visitors make their way further into
the depths of the Secret Reef in Ocean Journey. A wonder in itself,
the Undersea Cavern provides breathtaking, panoramic views of
the Secret Reef.
feel as if they are floating in a bubble deep in the ocean while
surrounded by thousands of curious saltwater creatures, like colorful
fish and enormous sharks, in a fantastic, brightly-colored coral
setting. As they make their way though the cavern, they can view
bottom feeders and observe the behaviors of mysterious saltwater
life as if they were actually deep-sea divers. Visitors are amazed
when 10-foot sharks swim slowly above their heads and schools
of darting fish move to and fro in every direction around them.
remarkable journey continues to other parts of the world:
of the World
With exotic and exciting sights from around the world, the Rivers
of the World gallery in River Journey feels like a planet all
on its own. When visitors enter, they get a special “taste”
of countries of different continents at every angle of the gallery,
while sounds of rapids and dripping water play in the distance,
reminding them of the Aquarium story.
fantastic creatures exhibited, the Rivers of the World gallery
showcases sights from the Amazon, Congo, St. Lawrence, Volga and
Fly Rivers as well as from tropical Eurasian waters.
Three exhibits are devoted to the Amazon, the world’s largest
river. One displays smaller, brightly-colored fish, frogs, lizards
and turtles from the region; a second contains the feared red-bellied
piranha and anaconda. The largest exhibit depicts the beautiful
"flooded forest" created each year during the rainy
season when the river rises 30 to 40 feet. A sampling of the 3,000
species that live in the Amazon swim among the tree branches in
the 35,000-gallon exhibit.
St. Lawrence exhibit presents the great predators of cold Northern
waters, including northern pike and Atlantic salmon.
Fly River flows in New Guinea, the highest tropical island in
the world with mountains tall enough to support glaciers. The
Fly River exhibit features rainbow fish and pig-nosed turtles.
The Nishikigoi exhibit features koi: fish that are rich in Japanese
history. These colorful carp were selectively bred creating many
varieties and colors of the species. They are now being sold for
garden ponds and are displayed as works of art in Japan, where
a high value is placed on the best fish.
Volga River (Russia) exhibit holds fish that were once common
in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union but are now endangered
or threatened. This includes the enormous Beluga sturgeon. The
Volga is a massive waterway, stretching more than 2,000 miles,
and was once one of the largest freshwater fisheries in Europe.
Today, the river is the heart of an intricate transportation system,
and pollution, habitat destruction and over-fishing are creating
a sharp decline in native fish populations.
warm-water Eurasian exhibit contains brightly-colored fish and
turtles from the warm, slow-moving waters of Southeast Asia. Gourami,
danio, barbs and four-eyed turtles are among the specimens featured.
The Tropical Cove in Ocean Journey beckons visitors into
its misty, tropical rainforest paradise with its lush, colorful
flowers, welcoming greenery, bird songs, cascading waterfall and
unique touch station.
the Forest Pool, guests are captivated by freshwater stingrays
like the black, white-blotched, tiger and vermiculate river rays,
as well as young arawana. Both the black and tiger stingrays are
considered threatened species and are the focus of an Aquarium
visitors continue their journey, the sounds of birdcalls fill
the air, and they catch sight of a majestic bird with striking
blue feathers in Macaw Glade. Reaching heights of more than 3
feet and a wingspan of more than 4 feet, the hyacinth macaw is
a member of the parrot family and has the strongest beak of any
bird in the world. This beautiful bird has deep cobalt blue feathers
that are offset by yellow eye rings and face patches.
next exhibit, Shark Island, is the Aquarium’s largest touch
station, with more than 100 feet of shoreline. Guests can touch
nearly 100 harmless sharks and stingrays, while Aquarium education
staff members share interesting facts about these animals. The
small epaulette and bamboo sharks found in this pool are harmless
and have rough skins that are covered with scales. The stingrays
of Shark Island are smooth to the touch and do not have stinging
can leave the Tropical Cove for another magical, exotic experience
in Ocean Journey’s special exhibition, “Boneless
Beauties.” Mystical music plays in the background while
the weird and whimsical invertebrates pulsate, dance and draw
visitors into their spell. Despite their drastically different
appearances, the creatures in this dimly lit gallery share one
common trait – the lack of a backbone. The “Boneless
Beauties” gallery showcases some of the most fascinating
and bizarre animals on earth, including the wondrous, giant Pacific
octopus, the giant Japanese spider crab, the hovering, squid-like
cuttlefish and those spineless, brainless wonders: the electrifying
In addition, the gallery features a unique, domed pop-up tank,
where guests can observe the intriguing lifestyles of several
giant spider crabs and some brown-striped pinecone fish as if
they were floating in a bubble in the middle of the tank.
Seahorses: Beyond Imagination
"Seahorses: Beyond Imagination" brings to life the world of enchanting
seahorses, legendary seadragons and colorful pipefish through exhibits, innovative
graphic displays and video presentations. Visitors to this special exhibition
travel to a lush Tasmanian kelp bed, a colorful Galapagos reef wall, the Florida
Keys, a portion of the Chesapeake Bay and a reef edge in the Philippines to
meet the animals that live in these habitats.
In addition, guests may use interactive touch computer screens
to learn more about seahorse behavior and conservation. Children
can join a school of multi-colored reef fish when they climb
into the pop-up tank, a domed exhibit that makes kids feel like
they're immersed in the water with the animals. Finally, the
gallery features a larger-than-life, three-dimensional model
of a seahorse - a hands-on opportunity to learn about the parts
of a seahorse and appreciate its natural wonder.
Highlights of the mystifying seahorse gallery include the rarely
seen weedy and leafy seadragons. These unusual seahorse cousins
look like fairytale dragons, floating through the water with
leaf-like "wings." These flowery appendages provide
excellent camouflage in their native Australian kelp beds.
Other gallery inhabitants include yellow seahorses; aptly named
potbellied seahorses; lined seahorses and several species of
pipefish, including the voracious alligator pipefish and the
striking bluestripe pipefish.
Venture into the world of cold-climate penguins at Penguins’ Rock
in the Ocean Journey building. Gentoo and macaroni penguins
are constantly diving into and rocketing out of the water in
this gallery. Many visitors are surprised by the size of
these sub-Antarctic birds. Gentoos are the third largest
penguin species in the world, while macaronis are the largest
of the crested penguin species.
Penguins’ Rock features a wave generator which creates
ocean swells gently washing back and forth across the rocky shoreline. The
gentoo and macaroni penguins love to ride these waves, often
spending time “body surfing” and observing the guests.
This face to beak experience is truly captivating for all ages.
Larger than life penguin models perched on a rocky island create
a fun family photo opportunity. Video monitors and interactive
graphics invite visitors to enjoy a fact-filled scavenger hunt
revealing the top 10 reasons we think penguins’ rock.
Visitors can venture into the beautiful Butterfly Garden in the
Ocean Journey building, where the sounds of birds and splashing
water fill the air. It’s a garden overflowing with exotic
flowers, a sparkling, cascading waterfall and hundreds of jewel-hued,
free-flying butterflies. The sunny Butterfly Garden immerses
guests in an interactive experience where the butterflies flutter
among, and even occasionally land on, the visitors. The butterflies
found in the garden include species from Asia, Africa, South
and Central America.
Guests who come to the Butterfly Garden can observe adult butterflies,
study a variety of chrysalises and learn some interesting facts
about the creatures and their habitats. Those who are patient
may even have the opportunity to watch as an adult emerges from
the chrysalis, spreads its wings and eventually takes flight.
Other areas of the Butterfly Garden promote butterfly watching,
butterfly gardening and other aspects of butterfly conservation.
Visitors learn how butterfly farming helps to protect rainforests
by providing farmers an alternative to clearing the delicate
habitat of a tropical rainforest.
Once visitors have completed this extraordinary journey through
the Aquarium, they will leave with an inspired, heightened sense
of wonder and appreciation for animals and plants of all shapes
and sizes from around the world.
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