Spring Break Fun – Keeper Kids At The Tennessee Aquarium

Friday, March 14, 2014 - by Thom Benson
Aquarist Sigourney Bain
Aquarist Sigourney Bain
- photo by Todd Stailey, Tennessee Aquarium

Seahorses are pretty amazing animals to observe. They have bulging, independently moving eyes, armor-plated bodies and monkey-like tails. Their rather bizarre appearances match the unusual measures taken to care for seahorses, sea dragons and pipefish. “The seahorses are actually one of our most labor intensive exhibits,” says Aquarist Sigourney Bain. “They are very delicate animals and their tanks require vigilant cleaning and vacuuming since seahorses are so sensitive to changes in their environment.”

A seahorse keeper’s day is filled with multiple feedings, tank maintenance like scrubbing and changing out water and moving any new babies to a back-up nursery area.

Across the Aquarium plaza in the Ocean Journey building, two coconut crabs are members of the largest land living invertebrate species in the world. They can grow up to three feet in leg span and can weigh up to 40 pounds!

Aquarist Pete Larson is in charge of working with them and admits that caring for these crabs is more about maintaining the right habitat than constant care.

“You have to make sure that their environment stays moist and that they have access to both fresh and salt water,” said Mr. Larson. “The fresh water provides hydration and they actually like to bathe in the salt water. They are also fed twice a week using a diet of fruits and vegetables with occasional proteins such as shrimp, trout chow or clams.”

Both seahorses and coconut crabs star in this year’s Keeper Kids schedule developed by Aquarium educators and husbandry staff. During spring break families will have special opportunities to explore “keepers only” areas while meeting rare turtles, baby sharks, birds and more.

A daily menu of 16 programs will be offered free with Aquarium admission. Kids, ages six and up, may choose two of the activities which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each experience lasts approximately 15 minutes.

Aside from getting an up close, behind-the-scenes look at some of the Aquarium’s most interesting creatures, they will also meet SCUBA divers, help feed some aquarium animals and even chat with the Aquarium’s veterinarian during special presentations each Wednesday. Keeper Kids is a great opportunity to learn more about how Aquarium staff cares for more than 10,000 animals such as penguins, lizards, giant catfish and one chubby woodchuck.

Keeper Kids Schedule     March 17 - April 20, 2014

10:30 a.m.       Butterflies, Birds and Blooms

10:45 a.m.       Sharks & SCUBA divers

10:45 a.m.       Turtle Treats & Songbird Eats

11:15 a.m.       Behind the Scenes Penguin Peek

11:30 a.m.       Jelly Babies & Other New Arrivals

11:45 a.m.       Seahorse Babies & Mysterious Mysis

12 noon           Mystery Creature Feature

1:15 p.m.         Behind the Scenes Penguin Peek

1:30 p.m.         Rivers of the World Feeding Frenzy

1:30 p.m.         Meet the Aquarium’s Dr. Dolittle  (Wed. only)

1:45 p.m.         Surf and Turf

2 p.m.             Turtles & Toads, OH MY!

2:30 p.m.         Behind the Scenes Penguin Peek

3 p.m.              Secret Reef Feeding Frenzy

3 p.m.              Turtle Treats & Songbird Eats

3:30 p.m.         Shark Babies & Very Big Fish

4 p.m.              Butterflies, Birds and Blooms

Meanwhile on the Tennessee River, the Williams Island Family Adventure Cruise will take passengers to "the Gateway to the Gorge." During each 90-minute adventure, the young and young at heart will discover Native American and Civil War history, and gain insights into the wildlife that call this wooded island home.  Time will be spent on each trip observing an osprey nest and heron rookery. Your naturalist guide helps locate other animals and leads an on-board scavenger hunt. These cruises will depart daily March 22 to April 17 from the Chattanooga Pier. Special Spring Break pricing will be offered for these cruises: $20/per person (age three and up), $18/per person under age three. 

 


Celebrating 100 Years Of The MoonPie In This Week’s Tennessee Tourism Round Up

The Tennessee Department of Tourism announces the following: You can taste it. The chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker treat has delighted taste buds for 100 years. Celebrate at the RC and MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle. You can hear it. Music filling the Tennessee air from small town squares, on porches and even in caves this summer. It’s all just waiting to be experienced ... (click for more)

Tennessee Tourism Round Up: The Soundtrack Of Summer

The summer heats up in Tennessee as internationally-acclaimed music festivals sweep the state from Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee; CMA Music Festival in Nashville; and Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga. See chart-topping performers and legendary musicians. It’s the “Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” June 8-11 Manchester – Bonnaroo Music ... (click for more)

Mae Beavers Hits New UT President For Reinstating Campus Diversity Office

Republican gubernatorial candidate Senator Mae Beavers expressed disappointment that the Chancellor of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Beverly Davenport, has announced plans to reinstate the Campus Diversity Office and hire a new director of the LGBT Pride Center. She said in May 2016 HB 2248 became law, which defunded the University of Tennessee’s Office of Diversity ... (click for more)

Wilkins Found With 2 Stolen Vehicles After Homeowner Catches Him In Break-In

Authorities said Jesse Lee Wilkins was found with two stolen vehicles after a resident on Thursday caught him stealing items from his residence on Cave Lane. Wilkins, 29, of 2906 E. 43rd St., was charged with aggravated burglary and two counts of theft over $1,000. When deputies arrived on a burglary call, they found Wilkins and the resident standing in the driveway. He said ... (click for more)

Exempt Volunteer Fire Departments From Procurement Policies - And Response (2)

The Hamilton County Commission just grouped a bunch of departments together in an attempt to reign in the CVB. I haven't spoken to any commissioners, but I truly believe it was unknowingly. By mandating that all non profits that receive 25 percent of their revenue follow county procurement policies, they might as well have padlocked all local volunteer fire departments. We expect ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Ghost & The Eclipse

So you don’t believe in ghosts, haints or spirits? And you don’t believe that smack in the middle of this August, it is going to be nighttime in the middle of the day? Then put on your seatbelt and sit next to me … First, the ghost. The 6 th Congressional District in the State of Georgia is in the northern part of Atlanta’s suburbs. It includes Roswell, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody ... (click for more)