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Experience the myth and magic of
"Seahorses: Beyond Imagination"
at the Tennessee Aquarium

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Feb. 21, 2002) - Imagine an animal with a horse-like head; a long snout; a looping, prehensile tail and bony plates of armor. While that may sound like something out of a fairytale, seahorses are not mythical beings, but beautiful, living creatures that can be found in habitats all over the world.

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga has opened its new changing exhibit, "Seahorses: Beyond Imagination," and visitors can take a journey into the kingdom of seahorses and discover the secrets of these enchanting creatures.

From tiny dwarf seahorses less than an inch in length to giant Pacific seahorses that can grow to be nearly a foot long, these animals challenge the conventional idea of what a fish should look like. And yes, seahorses are fish, and so are the other-worldly seadragons with their leafy flowing appendages.

"These marvels of nature will intrigue and delight visitors with their surprising appearances and behaviors," said Thom Demas, Aquarium senior aquarist. "Contrary to popular belief, seahorses are really fish, complete with gills and fins, that have existed for millions of years."

Highlights of the seahorse gallery include the rarely displayed 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 exotic 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.

Seahorses, seadragons and pipefish are all members of the family Syngnathidae and share several traits. In all species, males carry the babies. Seahorses, seadragons and pipefish also have eyes that can move independently of each other, have bony plates instead of scales, share the same snout-like feeding mechanism and have no true stomachs.

While they may appear docile, they are ravenous eaters and consume lots of zoo-plankton, which they suck in through their toothless trumpet-shaped mouths.

"Seahorses: Beyond Imagination," brings to life the world of seahorses, seadragons and pipefish through beautiful exhibits, innovative graphic displays and fascinating video presentations. Visitors to the gallery 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 very different habitats. Information panels will give children and adults a chance to discover fascinating facts about each animal and high-resolution video will showcase some of the unusual behaviors and adaptations of these fantastic creatures.

In addition, an interactive computer program uses touch screens to help visitors learn more about seahorse behavior and conservation. Guests may also visit the discovery station and get an extreme close-up of the seahorses' menu. Children can join a school of pipefish 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 will feature a larger-than-life, three-dimensional model of a seahorse - a hands-on opportunity to learn about the parts of a seahorse.


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The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $14 per adult and $7.50 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 $7.75 per adult and $5.25 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $18 for adults and $10.50 for children. Advance tickets may be purchased online at 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.

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