A Super ODDtober At The Tennessee Aquarium

Meet Creatures With Super-Hero Powers

Friday, September 25, 2015 - by Thom Benson

Like comic book super heroes, many of the Tennessee Aquarium’s creatures might appear mild-mannered at first glance. But upon closer examination, their strange and somewhat hidden super powers are revealed. Throughout ODDtober, aquarium guests will be introduced to some fascinating animals with natural abilities that help them thrive.  

Faster than a speeding bullet

Superman may have x-ray vision and strength, but Mantis Shrimp have incredible eyes and powerful raptorial appendages. “Mantis Shrimp have the fastest punch in the animal kingdom which they use to club their prey,” said Aquarist Brad Thompson. “They can also burrow into rocks by simply punching them.” They do so with incredible speed which has been compared to the acceleration of a .22 caliber bullet.

Even the “man of steel” would appreciate the super eyesight of these sea creatures.

While humans only have three sets of color receptors, the Mantis Shrimp has 16. They use 12 for color sensitivity and the others for color filtering. This sea creature may not be able to see through buildings, but it can see polarized, ultraviolet and infrared light.

And, as far as anyone knows, Mantis Shrimp are not weakened by Kryptonite.

Able to climb tall buildings

Radioactive blood gave Spider-Man his ability to stick to buildings. But the New Caledonian Giant Gecko has specialized hands and feet that allow it to scale a glass building. “They are arboreal creatures, meaning they spend most of their lives near the top of tropical forests,” said Susie Grant, the aquarium’s guest engagement manager. “They have a type of modified scales on their feet that gives them the ability to climb up almost any vertical surface, including glass.”

In addition to more than one dozen “Extraordinary Experiences” offered free with aquarium admission each day, special ODDtober programs will add to the fun by highlighting animals with Super Strength, Super Mobility, Super Senses and Super Intelligence.

Super SCUBA dives

The Aquarium has more than 170 volunteer SCUBA divers who perform a super service helping clean inside the exhibits and feeding some of the fishes. Throughout October, guests can watch costumed divers carving pumpkins underwater. These friendly competitions will take place each Saturday at 11 a.m. in the River Journey building.

For a complete ODDtober program schedule, go to: tnaqua.org/oddtober  Or download the free Tennessee Aquarium app.

Save the date for AquaScarium VIII on Friday, Oct. 30 from 4 – 8:30 p.m.

Come in costume for an evening of family trick-or-treating with the aquarium’s animals. Our galleries will have candy stations and our exhibits will be showcase the “wild” antics of our costumed SCUBA divers. Aquarium mascots will be shaking a leg at the Monster Mash dance floor. Kettle Korn and “swamp water” will be served on the Aquarium Plaza. Little ones will be entertained by special guest appearances by characters from a galaxy far, far away and beautiful fairy tale princesses. Guests will marvel at super heroes and enjoy “spooky” campfire stories.

Pre-register for this safe and spirited event before 10/28: http://www.tnaqua.org/events-programs

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