The natural world is full of animals whose grace and beauty can leave you awed. Some species, though? Their bizarre behaviors, unusual adaptations or downright weird appearance are more likely to make your eyebrows take a hike.
Every October, the Tennessee Aquarium shines a light on nature’s most-peculiar beasties. This year, visitors — in person or online — will still find plenty of fun to be had in learning about curious creatures of the scaly, furry and even glow-in-the-dark variety.
From Oct. 1 to Oct. 31, guests exploring the Rivers of the World gallery might be more shocked than usual by flashes of light coming from the Electric Eel display. Just in time for ODDtober, the mad scientists in the Aquarium’s audiovisual department have conjured up a way to translate the eel’s bioelectric discharges into the ghostly glow of flickering jack-o’-lantern lights.
Those looking to eke (or eek) even more fun out of their Aquarium visit can embark on a scavenger hunt that will introduce them to some of its most unusual residents. Participants in this self-guided activity will use a downloadable activity sheet and information on gallery graphics to identify animals using clues such as “builds its nest out of bubbles” and “extends its stomach outside its mouth to eat.” Once they fill out their sheet, participants can stop by the Aquarium gift shop to receive a special sticker in celebration of their detective skills.
For those who can’t make it to the Aquarium, a series of special Facebook Lives will bring the ODDtober fun to them. These free live streams will offer a chance to interact with Aquarium experts while getting fun insights and up-close looks at some extraordinary — not to mention extraordinarily strange — animals:
[All streams at 3:30 p.m. (Eastern), unless otherwise noted]
Monday, Oct. 5 — Underwater Pumpkin Carving (9 a.m.)
Tuesday, Oct. 6 — Aquatic Caecilians
Friday, Oct. 9 — Octopus and Cuttlefish
Monday, Oct. 12 — Giant Japanese Spider Crabs
Tuesday, Oct. 13 — Snake-necked Turtles
Thursday, Oct. 15 — Porcupinefish
Monday, Oct. 19 — Flying Squirrel
Wednesday, Oct. 21— Chameleons
Friday, Oct. 23 — Flashlight Fish
Monday, Oct. 26 — Otters & Pumpkins
Wednesday, Oct. 28 — Odd Birds
Members of the Aquarium also will be able to tune into a special ODDtober “Tricks ’n’ Treats” themed live event on Thursday, Oct. 22. Presented by Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, this members-only digital stream will include expert-led discussions of misunderstood, “scary” species, rarely seen feedings of guest favorite animals and a chat with Dr. Zeb Hogan, host of the popular show “Monster Fish” seen on National Geographic Wild. Members will receive an emailed invite to this exclusive event later in the month.
Aquarium members receive unlimited visits all year with special discounts and exclusive access to events such as SharkFest! and the ODDtober live celebration. Additional membership details and purchase options are available at tnaqua.org/members.
For more information about ODDtober, visit tnaqua.org/oddtober/