Aquarium opens new gallery:
JELLIES: PHANTOMS OF
Tenn. (April 8, 1998) -- More than stinging balls of slime and
more fun to watch than a lava lamp, jellyfish are the shimmering
and translucent stars of Jellies: Phantoms of the Deep, the
new gallery now open at the Tennessee Aquarium.
Phantoms of the Deep gives visitors the rare opportunity to
see jellyfish as they really are... delicate and mesmerizing
creatures who are nettlesome to swimmers only because they're
doing what jellyfish do.
jellies gallery is the first in a series of changing shows designed
to make each visit to the Aquarium new and exciting. It will
be replaced by another exciting aquatic exhibit in the year
jellies exhibits on the East and West Coasts have drawn millions
of visitors from all over the country," said Charlie Arant,
Aquarium president. "We want our visitors to have the opportunity
to experience the magical and mystical world of the jellies,
as well as all the other amazing wonders of the aquatic world."
amazing it is. You might be a small child who observes the swimming
behavior of baby moon jellies in a hand-held jelly-wand. Or
an adult who steps up to one of the interactive stations to
find out more about the lion's mane jelly that captured his
interest with its long tentacles. Visitors of all ages will
find the jellies gallery a technical and aesthetic marvel complete
with ethereal music, dim lighting and hundreds of pulsating,
glowing, shimmering, phantom-like jellies.
sea nettles, moon jellies, lions mane and elegant jellies
range in size from contact lenses to dinner plates, and in color
from iridescent white to shades of pink and brown. Their bodies,
or "bells", trail long, thread-like tentacles and
frilly ruffles in an eerie ballet.
spite of their name-are not fish, but invertebrate-relatives
of sea anemones and corals. Jellies are 97 percent water. With
no heart, no brain and no real eyes, jellyfish have three main
parts: the round umbrella- like bodies or bells which propel
the animals with a pumping or pulsating motion; tentacles that
sting and immobilize prey; and oral arms or flaps that are used
to eat their prey.
this basic equipment, jellies manage to defend themselves from
danger, make daily and seasonal journeys, stay together and
occupy all the oceans of the world. Simple in design, fragile
in build, jellies have few of the complex features many animals
use to survive. Yet for 650 million years, they've lived and
prospered on this watery planet.
Coco, curator of fishes, said that even though jellyfish have
prospered all this time, they are challenging to maintain away
from their natural environment. Extensive work by Aquarium husbandry
staff has made it possible to rear many of the jellies in an
artificial setting, and to create exhibits that can accommodate
these fragile animals.
up a display of jellyfish is a real challenge for several reasons,"
said Coco. "Tanks must have specially designed water circulation
to prevent the fragile animals from entering the life support
system and to provide for the suspension of food in the water
column. The food must be suspended because jellyfish feed on
various kinds of plankton, tiny animal organisms in the water,
like baby brine shrimp."
added that hundreds of moon and lion's mane jellies have reproduced
asexually, doing so without eggs and sperm. Jellyfish young
are called larvae, and they begin life by attaching to a solid
surface then grow to resemble a tiny flower-a polyp. In hidden
caverns and under rocky ledges, polyps perform their own kind
of reproduction-not with eggs and sperm, but by cloning themselves.
First they produce identical new polyps. Then they begin to
form free-swimming jellies, a process as strange as if a caterpillar
could divide itself into dozens of butterflies.
the Aquarium, aquarists can "trigger" the jellies
to reproduce by changing the temperature of the water from cold
to warm or by introducing a chemical trigger. Small amounts
of iodine solution often stimulate jelly polyps to release many
new larvae. A jelly's lifespan ranges from weeks to years, depending
on the species. Most jellies at the Tennessee Aquarium are bred
here, while other species are acquired from other aquarium institutions.
jellies gallery consists of tanks that are cylinders and portholes;
large and small jellies; warm and cold-water jellies; stinging
and mild-mannered jellies; polyps (tiny stalks of jellyfish
buds), ephyrae (babies) and medusae (adults) in a total of 3,000
gallons of water. There will also be an interactive area with
four touch-screens, and a docent station, where volunteers and
educators will highlight jellies with various educational tools,
including hand-held jelly-wands. Video portholes will feature
footage of sea turtles eating jellies, jellies in the wild,
and other amazing jelly behavior.
Phantoms of the Deep is sponsored in part by Brach & Brock
The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is the largest freshwater
aquarium in the world. Built with private contributions, this
non-profit educational organization is dedicated to the understanding,
conservation and enjoyment of the Tennessee River and related
ecosystems. Admission is $10.95 per adult and $5.95 per child,
ages 3-12. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits.
join or for program and trip information, call 267-FISH. The
Aquarium is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas
and is accessible to people with disabilities. The Aquariums
TDD number is (423) 265-4498, and FM assistive listening devices
are available on site. For more information, call 1-800-262-0695.