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. 


Tennessee Aquarium’s Family-Friendly AquaScarium IX Is Oct. 28

The Tennessee Aquarium’s annual family-friendly Halloween party, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28, will take on a “monstrous” theme in honor of the newly opened Monster Fish exhibit. Both Aquarium buildings and River Place (The building where Monster Fish is located.) will be packed with spooky — but not too spooky — fun for “bouys” and “ghouls” during this year’s celebration.  ... (click for more)

Tennessee Aquarium Has Underwater Pumpkin Carving On Saturdays

Tennessee Aquarium guests can see underwater pumpkin carving demonstrations each Saturday at 11 a.m. throughout October in the River Journey building. Costumed SCUBA divers will make weekend appearances for the rest of the month.  Lots of costumed divers will be seen during the AquaScarium family Halloween Party at the Aquarium. Pirates, mermaids, and super heroes will be ... (click for more)

Howard Simmons, 47, Shot And Killed In St. Elmo Monday Morning; Police Interview Person Of Interest

Howard Simmons, 47, was shot and killed in St. Elmo Monday morning. Police said they had interviewed a person of interest in the slaying. Chattanooga Police at 8:30 a.m. responded to a person shot at the 5000 block of Florida Ave. Upon police arrival the victim, Simmons, had already succumbed to his injuries. Ms. Simmons suffered at least one gunshot wound. At this time ... (click for more)

Erlanger To Open Cancer Center On Gunbarrel Road At East Campus

Work is set to begin soon on construction of a new Cancer Center by Erlanger Health System at its Gunbarrel Road East Campus. Erlanger is joining with a development firm, Chatt East 3 LLC of Alabama, on the four-story project located just south of Women's East Hospital on a wooded five-acre tract. Erlanger will be leasing the bottom three floors at a rate of $16.05 per square ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Picture a sold-out baseball game at Wrigley Field or Nationals Park packed with 40,000 fans. That image represents roughly the same number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year.  In Tennessee alone, an estimated 900 women will die from the disease in 2016. It is a sad statistic, but there is some good news: thanks to early detection and improved treatments, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Testerman Forum

I badly misjudged how long it would take me to do my “early voting.” I was in-and-out in no time so I got to the Hamilton County School Board’s agenda meeting well enough beforehand to have an “educational forum” with board member David Testerman. If you haven’t noticed, forums and summits and “community enlightenment” groups are the new rage and, as my friend David laughed, “They ... (click for more)