What email address or phone number would you like to use to sign in to Docs.com?
If you already have an account that you use with Office or other Microsoft services, enter it here.
Or sign in with:
Signing in allows you to download and like content, and it provides the authors analytical data about your interactions with their content.
Embed code for: Aquaguide_2014-2015 Tenn. Aqu
Select a size
Welcome to the Tennessee Aquarium! We hope you enjoy your visit. The Aqua Guide is designed to help teachers lead groups through the exhibits at the Tennessee Aquarium while offering exciting educational information to enhance the learning experience. This information may also be reviewed before a field trip to discover what adventures lay ahead. The Aqua Guide is divided into two sections, the River Journey guide and the Ocean Journey guide. Use either section first, depending on which building you enter. Plan two to three hours for touring both buildings. River Journey fascinates students with river otters, turtles, alligators, giant catfish, thousands of freshwater wonders and live animal encounters. Ocean Journey delights students with penguins, sharks, butterflies, thousands of saltwater wonders and often scuba divers who interact with guests. Tips for using this guide: Questions and featured animals are highlighted in bold. Answers are given in italics. At the end of certain sections, you’ll find a “Conservation Note” relating to the gallery. Please note: Due to the nature of a living collection, we cannot guarantee that you will see each animal during your visit. 2014-2015 Aqua Guide Ocean Journey To begin your tour in Ocean Journey, take the two escalators to level four, the top floor. Butterfly Garden As you walk through the Butterfly Garden, observe what the butterflies are feeding on. The majority of the butterflies prefer nectar from flowering trees and plants. They need lots of energy to stay in flight and prefer plants where they can gently rest while gathering nectar. You might notice that some butterflies prefer to feed on fruit. These butterflies are seeking minerals and nutrients in the fruit juices that will help in breeding success. Q: Butterflies make use of the color, shape, pattern and motion of their wings to create some of the most effective and dazzling visual displays in nature. Find a butterfly that is brightly colored. What is the purpose of its bright color? A: Bright colors advertise to predators that it is not good to eat. They can also be helpful in attracting a mate. Q: Some butterflies have circles on their wings called eyespots. Find a butterfly with eyespots. What is their purpose? A: Scientists think the large spots might resemble eyes. A predator might think the butterfly is a much larger animal and be frightened away. Macaw Island The hyacinth macaw is the largest member of the parrot family. Adults grow to approximately 40 inches in length with a wingspan of up to 50 inches. Their natural lifespan is estimated to be 30 – 50 years or more. Q: The hyacinth macaw has two important tools: its strong beak and its nimble feet. Observe the macaws. How do they use these tools to help them survive? A: Macaws use their agile feet like hands, even using them to lift food to their mouths. When moving around, they use their feet and beaks for grasping. Hyacinth macaws have very strong beaks for cracking nuts and seeds. They can exert more than 300 pounds of pressure per square inch (psi) when biting. How do other animals compare? A human can exert 170 psi when biting, while large alligators exert more than 2000 psi. Stingray Bay Stingray Bay offers guests the opportunity to touch stingrays, and sharks. Prepare your students for their encounter by directing them to gently touch the animals with two fingers. Q: Sharks and stingrays are related, both having a skeleton made of flexible cartilage rather than bone. Observe them, then gently touch them. How are rays different than sharks? How are they similar? A: Sharks feel rough because they are covered by dermal denticles, flat plates buried in the skin with a raised portion exposed. The rays lack scales and feel smooth to the touch. Stingrays have rows of teeth arranged into a grinding plate. The epaulette sharks possess many small individual teeth used to feed on bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Epaulette sharks and stingrays are flattened on their bellies because they spend much of their time on the ocean floor. 2 Located on level 4 Conservation Note The butterflies housed in the exhibit are not collected from wild populations. They are raised on butterfly farms in a sustainable manner. Most tropical butterfly farmers realize that their business depends upon healthy, protected native habitat. Land that is used to farm butterflies is saved from being clear-cut and developed. Tropical Cove Tropical rainforests are areas of high humidity, rainfall and temperature located along the equator between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. The Tropical Cove recreates this spectacular habitat in a 30- foot tall sunlit space filled with lush tropical plants. Engage all of your senses as you encounter the sights and sounds of animals from the treetops to forest pools, touch a stingray or marvel at brightly colored butterflies. hyacinth macaw, epaulette shark, bonnethead shark, Atlantic stingray, blue morpho butterfly, tiger longwing butterfly 3 Q: Penguins range in size from a little over two feet to almost four feet tall. What size are our penguins? A: Gentoo and macaroni penguins are mid-size birds that grow on the average from 24-30 inches tall. The largest penguin is the emperor penguin and the smallest is the little blue penguin. Q: Why do penguins look like they are dressed in a tuxedo? A: This coloration is called countershading and it is used to camouflage a penguin in the water. From below, a penguin’s white belly blends into the bright surface of the ocean while from above a penguin’s dark back disappears into the blackness of the ocean below. This helps them avoid predators and catch prey. Conservation Note Penguins face many survival challenges including habitat loss, oil spills, reduced food supplies and climate change. The most endangered penguin species is the Galapagos penguin. Habitat destruction and loss of nesting grounds has caused the population to drop to just 600 breeding pairs. All 17 species of penguins are protected by law from hunting. You can help protect penguins by supporting conservation initiatives for all marine life. Located on level 2 Where have I heard that before? The macaroni penguin got its name from early English explorers for its yellow crest feathers which resembled those worn in the hats of young 18th century men called “macaronis”. This label was used in the Revolutionary War song, “Yankee Doodle”. Keeping the Chill Out All penguins have a thick layer of insulating feathers and a thick layer of blubber or fat which keep them warm. They can also control blood flow to their extremities, reducing the amount of blood which gets cold, but still keep their extremities from freezing. Penguins’ Rock Penguins belong to the Family Spheniscidae which is derived from the Greek word “spheno”, meaning “wedge”. This likely refers to their short wedged shaped tails. Q: What do penguins eat? A: Penguins in the wild eat squid, fish and krill. Here at the Tennessee Aquarium they are mainly fed capelin and smelt, but herring, squid, sardines, krill and silversides may also be used as food. Q: How fast can penguins swim? A: The larger species such as emperors and kings are capable of bursts greater than 20 mph. They usually swim at a more leisurely seven mph. The fastest Olympic swimmers reach speeds of just over five mph in a 100-meter race. Some penguins, such as the emperors, are capable of diving to depths of 900 feet. Penguins breathe by “porpoising” like dolphins as they swim. They can waddle about two mph and some species are capable of making treks up to 20 miles to nesting sites. Penguins’ Rock Penguins’ Rock takes you to the rocky islands surrounding Antarctica. Here we show you the top 10 reasons Penguins’ Rock! There are 17 species of penguins in the world, all of which are found only in the southern hemisphere. This exhibit features the gentoo and macaroni penguins. macaroni and gentoo penguins Located on level 2 Living Coral Reef Coral reefs provide habitat for numerous fish and invertebrate species. Corals are divided into two categories: hard corals and soft corals. Hard corals have cup-like skeletons that form the foundation of coral reefs. Soft corals have bits of calcium carbonate scattered throughout their bodies. Coral reefs are made up of colonies of individual invertebrate animals called polyps that live together in a limestone skeleton structure. Each polyp is soft-bodied and resembles an upside-down jellyfish. Corals have a symbiotic relationship with algae living inside their tissue known as zooxanthellae. In this relationship, corals provide the algae a protected environment in which to live and the elements necessary for the algae to carry out photosynthesis. In return, 90% of the coral’s food comes from the sugars and other compounds made by the zooxanthellae. The other 10% of their nutrition comes from extending a circle of tentacles, to capture plankton. Coral gets its color from the algae or zooxanthellae living deep within the polyps’ tissue. If the coral were to become stressed, it would expel the zooxanthellae, and the colony would take on a white appearance known as “coral bleaching.” Color Changers Octopuses and cuttlefish are cephalopods. The name of this class is translated to “head-footed”. They are able to change colors to blend in with their environment by using cells called chromatophores to rapidly alter their color. They can also protect themselves by expelling a jet of ink into the water while they exit in the other direction. Octopuses and cuttlefish have a copper-based protein in their blood that makes it blue. Q: How many cuttlefish can you see in the exhibit? How do cuttlefish hide? How does their ability to quickly change color help them survive? A: They usually change color in response to predators or other disturbances. The ability to blend in with their surroundings helps them virtually “disappear” from predators. Octopuses are considered the most intelligent of all invertebrate animals, comparable to a house cat. They are shy but curious and will explore their surroundings. Octopuses are often difficult to keep in collections as they are excellent escape artists. How does our husbandry staff keep them from escaping? They surround the inside of the exhibit with indoor/outdoor carpet. The octopus’ suction cups cannot stick to this material, thus preventing octopuses from climbing out. The octopus uses its suckers to help it detect prey such as crabs, snails and fish. Once its prey is captured, the octopus injects a toxin through its beak to help dissolve the prey, making it easier to ingest. Did you Know? Jellyfish, cuttlefish and octopuses move using a form of jet propulsion. As water is pushed out of their bodies in one direction, the animals move in the opposite direction. The spider crab is the largest arthropod, weighing up to 44 pounds with a leg span of 12 feet and a body that can reach 15 inches in diameter! Female lobsters carry their eggs under their abdomens for as long as a year before they release the young larvae to fend for themselves as zooplankton. Boneless Beauties Drastically different in appearance, the creatures found in Boneless Beauties all have one thing in common, the lack of a backbone. Scientists estimate that more than 95% of all known species on earth are invertebrates. From the microscopic rotifers at four hundred thousandths of an inch to the giant squid growing to more than 40 feet in length, these animals represent a vast array of shapes, sizes and colors. live coral species, cuttlefish, moon jellies, Pacific octopus, giant Pacific crabs, lobster 4 5 Amazing Fish Adaptations As you look at the fish in the Secret Reef, you may notice that no two fish are the same. They come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. Fish are built for a specific lifestyle. Explore some of these adaptations as you observe the coral reef fish. Q: How does color help a fish survive? A: Color may camouflage a fish from predators, or help it sneak up on prey. Color could also help attract a mate. Q: Some fish are opportunistic, feeding on many different types of food. Other fish have mouths designed to eat a very specific diet. Find three fish with different mouths. What might they feed on? A: Answers will vary. Sharks are predators, using sharp teeth to catch their prey. Stingrays use crushing plates to break apart hard-shelled invertebrates. Butterflyfish have small pointed mouths that aid them in eating algae on hard surfaces. Q: Fish protect themselves in many ways. Look closely and describe at least two methods of defense. A: Sharks use large teeth to bite when threatened. A stingray can inject a mild venom using a serrated spine on its tail. Pufferfish swallow water or air to inflate their bodies so they look larger; some also have spines that stick out like a pincushion. A surgeonfish has a tail spine that can deliver a razor-sharp slice. Did your students find others? Q: You go to school and so do fish! Actually, they swim in groups called schools. What types of fish do you observe swimming in a school? What are the advantages to schooling? A: Jacks, cottonwicks and lookdowns swim in schools. Predators are less likely to attack a large group of fish. The large numbers can be confusing because the school can resemble a large fish and the fish can scatter, making it harder for the predator to catch individual fish. Schooling also makes it easier for the fish to find food because there are more individuals looking, they can work together and because less successful individuals can follow more successful ones. Located on levels 2 & 1 Secret Reef The Secret Reef represents the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, located 115 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. It is the northernmost coral reef in the United States and boasts the highest percentage of coral cover compared to most reefs around the world. The Secret Reef exhibit contains over 600,000 gallons of artificially created saltwater and over 3,500 fish make their home among the corals and sponges in the exhibit. The corals in this exhibit aren’t living. The Tennessee Aquarium’s reef was artificially created using cement and rubber. Hundreds of reef fish, sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, green sea turtle Conservation Note Coral reefs are being lost at an alarming rate. Threats such as destructive fishing practices, coastal development, sedimentation, sewage and rising global temperatures are responsible for their decline. Why should we care? The ocean influences our climate and storms, creates oxygen and affects humans in thousands of ways. The contributions of coral reefs to human health are only beginning to be explored. How can you help? Only buy tropical fish that have been collected in a sustainable way. Don’t buy dead or dried marine souvenirs. Participate in a local trash cleanup. Be responsible at home by make sure your car doesn’t leak oil and using caution when applying pesticides or fertilizers to your lawn. 6 Sharks seem to move effortlessly through the water. They swim in an S-shape motion. Observe a shark as it swims. How does its fins help it move through the water? powerful tail fin used to propel dorsal fin for stability streamlined body shape helps it move quickly through the water pectoral fin for steering Q: Can you tell the differences between the two species of sharks we have? A: Sandbar sharks have a larger dorsal fin and swim faster. Sand tiger sharks have teeth that protrude from their mouths. Sea Turtles There are seven species of sea turtles found in the world. Sea turtles are reptiles that have adapted to life in the ocean. With the exception of nesting females, these animals spend their lives in the ocean. The most obvious physical adaptations to the sea turtle’s aquatic environment are the limbs that have been modified into flippers for swimming and the streamlined shell that is less domed than that of the land turtles. Although turtles are generally thought of as slow-moving creatures, sea turtles can attain swimming speeds of up to 19 miles per hour! The green sea turtle is one of the larger sea turtles, weighing up to 450 pounds and reaching 48 inches in length. The green sea turtle shell is a mix of brown and white, not the color its name brings to mind. The green sea turtle’s name is derived from the greenish color of the fat inside its body, not the shell outside. We currently have two green sea turtles at the Tennessee Aquarium. Secret Reef (Continued) Conservation Note Many sea turtles have been accidentally caught in the nets of shrimp fishermen. Federal regulations now require every large shrimp boat to install a turtle excluder device, or “TED” in their net. TEDs can be expensive and cumbersome but also prevent net damage, increase the fishermen’s catch and save the lives of turtles and other large animals, including bottom-dwelling sharks. Seven Species of Sea Turtles loggerhead (Caretta caretta) flatback (Chelonia depressa) green (Chelonia mydas) hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) Pacific ridley ( Lepidochelys olivacea) leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) Stewie arrived at the Tennessee Aquarium from Marineland Florida in February 1999. At the time he weighed 198 pounds and was approximately six years old. He now weighs over 300 pounds! Oscar came to us in October 2005. Covered in green algae, he was dropped off at the New Smyrna Beach Coast Guard station where he was named Oscar after “Oscar the Grouch”. Oscar was injured from a boat propeller. He is missing most of his rear flippers and tail. Sandbar Shark Sand Tiger Shark 7 Q: Can you describe the parts of jellyfish and their function? A: The bell is the main body of the jellyfish which contains four stomachs and reproductive organs or gonads. The tentacles are the long skinny strands which contain the stinging cells. Oral arms are the ruffled parts which bring captured food to the jelly’s mouth. The jelly’s mouth is located underneath the bell in the center and is also used for secreting waste. Q: How do jellyfish swim? A: Although jellies drift with the current, they can move short distances or to redirect themselves by contracting muscles in their bell, water is forced out and the jelly is propelled in the opposite direction. This pulsing motion closely resembles an umbrella being closed and opened. Q: How do jellyfish sting? A: Clusters of cells called cnidoblasts are found mostly along the tentacles, on the oral arms and even on the bell. A tightly coiled nematocyst is found within each cnidoblast. Each nematocyst is a mini-harpoon that is shot at high speed from its cell when stimulated by touch and chemical signals. It delivers a toxin that paralyzes small prey and produces severe burning on most people’s skin. Jellies have a complex life cycle. As adults, or medusa (me-DUE-sa), jellies reproduce sexually to create planula (PLAN-you-la), free-swimming larvae that float until they find a hard surface for attaching. At this point the jelly transforms into the polyp (POL-ip) form and resembles a cone. The polyp reproduces asexually for a few months but may live for several years producing clone polyps. The polyps begin to form grooves that deepen until a stack of several organisms remains. Once this replication begins, the animal is called a strobila (STRO-ba-la) and resembles a stack of pancakes. Eventually the one on top pops off, and becomes a free-swimming ephyra (ee-FIE-rah). As each ephyra grows, it will transform into the more typical medusa body shape. Jellies are invertebrates with bodies that consist of a jelly-like substance called mesoglea. Jellyfish are perhaps the simplest yet most mysterious ocean dwellers and are found in all the world’s oceans. They lack a brain, skeleton and a respiration system. Sea walnuts are not true jellies. They are ctenophores (pronounced teen-o-fours) which is Greek for “comb-bearers”. They use fused cilia to propel them through the water. They are predators that use sticky mucus to trap their prey instead of the stinging cells of true jellies. Some ctenophores are bioluminescent. Located on level 1 Jellies: Living Art In this unique gallery, a combination of studio glass and living creatures are displayed. Many exhibit signs focus on the biology of jellies while others emphasize how art reflects nature. upside-down jellies, spotted lagoon jellies, sea walnuts, moon jellies, east coast & west coast sea nettles Conservation Note Overfishing gives jellies an edge by removing predators from the food web. Additionally, some forms of pollution can actually add nutrients to our oceans, feeding algae that in turn produce more zooplankton, a major food source for jellies. Jelly populations can increase dramatically, creating “swarms” that can consume large numbers of larval fish and decrease the number of fish to harvest or reproduce. cnidoblast cell Nematocyst after firing medusa planula polyp strobila ephyra 8 Seahorses, seadragons and pipefish all have bony plates covered with skin rather than scales. Their bodies are elongated and their jaws are fused into tube- shaped mouths. Seahorses are the only fish with a prehensile tail for grasping. The males carry the fertilized eggs and give birth. Proud Papas Seahorses are the only example in the animal kingdom of male pregnancy. After receiving the eggs from the female, male seahorses incubate eggs in a brood pouch, while sea dragons and pipefish brood eggs under and on the sides of their tails. After 10 to 30 days, the male gives birth to several hundred babies at a time. Babies look like tiny adults, only 7-11 mm in length. Conservation Note Over the past several years, seahorse populations have declined tremendously. In a group of 100 or more babies, it’s not unusual for only a few to survive. Larger predators feed on juvenile seahorses. Storms at sea can pull the juveniles from their holdfasts and wash them up on shore. Humans also affect seahorse populations. Over-consumption is the leading cause of decline. Many native fishers collect seahorses before they are mature and can reproduce. Seahorses are collected for medicinal purposes, for home aquariums and for souvenirs. Project Seahorse is a program of conservation and management that works to ensure long-term survival of seahorses. They are establishing community-based conservation of seahorse fisheries, education of the communities and enforcement of legislation. Q: Seahorses possess many unique characteristics that help them survive. How many of the following adaptations do you see? How do these adaptations help the seahorse survive? A seahorse can move its eyes in different directions at the same time! They can rotate 360 degrees, so they can see nearly all the way around them in all directions. The bony plates on seahorses provide protection from predators. Because of this, seahorses don’t move their bodies in a wavelike fashion as most fish do; they glide gracefully by fanning their delicate fins. Seahorses are the only fish with prehensile tails, which allow them to hold onto corals, seagrass or each other. Seahorses suck up food with their tube-like snouts and swallow it whole because they do not have teeth. They have no true stomachs so they must eat several times a day. Seahorses feed on plankton, microscopic organisms found in the water. Seahorses are experts at camouflage. Sea dragons and many seahorses can actually grow appendages to make them look more like their surroundings. The coronet is the “crown” of the seahorse head. Each seahorse’s coronet is as unique as a human fingerprint. coronet snout prehensile tail dorsal fin pectoral fin bony plate Located on level A River Journey Begin your River Journey tour downstairs on Level A, then take the two escalators to level four, the top floor. Seahorses Most of us recognize a fish when we see one. We generally define a fish as an animal that breathes with gills, moves with fins, is covered by scales or skin and lives in aquatic habitats. Fish come in nearly any shape we can imagine and most of the colors of the rainbow. There are a few fish, however, that may leave us scratching our heads in wonder. Seahorses are such a fish. potbelly seahorse, dwarf seahorse, alligator pipefish, weedy seadragon and snipefish 9 Rainbow, brown and brook trout are found both inside and just outside the Cove Forest. Brook trout are the only trout native to Tennessee. Q: Which features can be used to distinguish between each of the three kinds of trout? A: A white stripe borders all but the dorsal fin of the brook trout. The brown trout does not have spots on its tail and paired fins. The rainbow trout has a prominent pink, red or silver band along its side. Many fish species change color or change appearances during spawning season. The spawning male brook trout develops a hooked lower jaw called a kype. The colors on his sides intensify and his belly changes to a bright red-orange. This difference in appearance between the male and female is known as sexual dimorphism. Birds of the Appalachian Cove Forest Just beyond the snake exhibit, look above the display to watch the birds of the Cove Forest. Listen carefully to the calls of the songbirds to help pinpoint their locations. Q: Why do birds sing? A: Birds call to attract mates and to protect their territory. Songbirds actually learn their songs, which range from very simple (one or two notes) to complex. In most species the males do most of the singing. River otters Q: Observe the otters and describe at least two adaptations that help it survive in an aquatic habitat. A: streamlined body shape helps it move quickly in the water ear and nose valves close when underwater strong tapered tail that works as a rudder webbed feet work like paddles Q: Why do you see bubbles when the otters swim? A: They are air bubbles, but not from breathing. Air is trapped between its two layers of fur. Dense underfur keeps the otter warm, while its longer fur keeps it dry, thanks to oil from a special gland. Otters spend a large part of their day grooming their fur to keep its waterproofing and insulating properties in top condition. Conservation Note The river otter was once considered a pest that stole fish away from fishermen. The otter was trapped and killed both for its fur and to eliminate it from competing for fish. Habitat loss and pollution had also taken a toll, virtually eliminating the otter from east Tennessee. Through reintroduction efforts and conservation actions, the North American River otter is once again found throughout its historic native range. Brook trout Brown trout Rainbow trout Located on level 4 The Cove Forest The Cove Forest represents an ancient forest found high in the Appalachian Mountains. This is one of the few indoor exhibits in the world that experiences four seasons. Wildflowers bloom in the spring and the live trees lose their leaves in the winter. How do we accomplish this? Natural light shines in through the glass peaks. Very little artificial heating and cooling is used, resulting in a temperature that varies by about 10 degrees from the outside temperature. North American river otter, song birds, brook trout 10 Brightly colored sunfish play a vital role in the web of life of the aquatic community. They prey on insect larvae, crustaceans and other invertebrates and, in turn, are fed on by larger fish, birds and mammals. Q: If the sunfish was removed from its community, how would the community and its members be affected? A: The ecosystem would be unbalanced. Populations of prey species such as insect larvae would increase. Predators like birds would be missing a food source and would be forced to rely on other sources to survive. Competition among predators would increase due to the lack of available food. The hellbender is the largest salamander in North America. Like most amphibians, the hellbender respires through its skin. Q: How does its loose, wrinkled skin help it absorb more oxygen? A: Loose wrinkles provide more surface area for oxygen absorption. To demonstrate this concept, compare a smooth baseball and a koosh ball. The koosh ball has more surface area due to the spikes. Amphibians such as salamanders and treefrogs are indicator species. A decline in their numbers can indicate a change in the quality of their habitat. Amphibians are very sensitive to water pollution because their skin is so permeable. Along with oxygen, pollutants may pass through their skin. These harmful substances can cause deformities and even death. Discovery Hall Discovery Hall showcases a variety of aquatic habitats such as rivers, streams and wetlands. The exhibits bring you up close to the often unnoticed creatures of our region. Although many are small, their roles in the ecosystem are large. Some warn us of disturbing conditions in our environment simply by their presence or absence. Others tell a story of time past when their populations were large and their habitats healthy. sunfish, baby alligator, hellbender, green treefrog, red-spotted newt, yellow-blotched map turtle, lake sturgeon Sturgeon Encounter Students can experience the thrill of touching a fish at the sturgeon encounter. The lake sturgeon is often called a living fossil. Their fossil record dates back to the age of the dinosaurs. It is one of the longest lived fishes; some may live up to 150 years. Sturgeon locate food on the bottom of lakes and rivers using their barbels. They suck up food such as crayfish, worms, mollusks, insect larvae and algae with their tube-like mouths. Prepare your students for their encounter by directing them to gently touch the animals with two fingers. Q: Describe what it feels like. Do sturgeon have scales? How do they protect themselves? A: Sturgeon do not have scales. Instead, their bodies are covered in tough skin. Five rows of bony scutes (plates) under the skin protect the sturgeon much like a suit of armor. Q: What is the Tennessee Aquarium doing to help bring this fish back to our rivers? A: The Tennessee Aquarium, along with other resource agencies and conservation groups, is involved with releasing sturgeon into the Tennessee River system. TVA has improved water quality in the Tennessee River watershed and it is now considered suitable habitat for sturgeon. The Aquarium raises sturgeon until they have grown to about 12 inches. Over 110,000 sturgeon have been released. Located on level 3 Conservation message: Today the lake sturgeon is listed by most states, including Tennessee, as threatened or endangered. Its decline is due to overfishing, habitat destruction and changes to spawning routes due to dam construction. Animals can’t talk, but they have other ways of communicating. Baby alligators chirp a distress call when in danger and the mom quickly arrives to protect them. Each type of treefrog also has its own distinct call to communicate messages of alarm, distress, feeding or reproductive readiness. Listen to hear the recorded calls of the treefrogs and alligators. The American alligator is a well adapted predator. Observe the alligator and describe some of the adaptations that help it survive. eyes and nostrils on top of head for seeing and breathing while floating transparent nictitating membrane covers eyes Bald Cypress The bald cypress tree is well-adapted to life in a wetland. It has a widespread root system and wide-spreading trunk bases called buttresses which serve to anchor it in the ground and provide support during high winds and heavy flooding. Most unusual are its bumpy knees arising from shallow roots. It is thought that they may be involved in the tree’s respiration process, as well as helping to anchor it in the muddy soil. The trees in the Delta Swamp exhibit have varied origins. Some are live trees; others are dead trees that were air lifted from the wreckage of Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina in 1988; and the remaining trees are fabricated specimens made of fiberglass, wire mesh, concrete and rubber. powerful tail for propelling it through the water The alligator snapping turtle is the largest of North America’s freshwater turtles. It gets its name from its powerful bite and from the ridges along its shell that resemble those on an alligator’s back. The alligator snapper is an impressive predator, mainly feeding on fish. It catches its food in a unique way! The snapper lies on the bottom of the river with its mouth open. It lures fish by wiggling a pink worm-like growth on its tongue. When a curious fish gets too close, the turtle quickly slams its strong jaws shut to capture the meal. Q: How do the ducks in the Delta Swamp stay dry even when they dive underwater? A: When a bird rubs its bill over its feathers or preens, it is not only smoothing out ruffled or damaged feathers, but also spreading oil. Many birds, including ducks, have an oil gland (also called the uropygial gland) located above the base of their tails. A bird collects this oil on its beak, then gently rubs it on its feathers while preening. This oil doesn’t actually waterproof the bird, but it does act as a conditioner, keeping the feathers strong and healthy which in turn makes the feathers water resistant. Q: Why are the turtles “basking” on the logs? A: Like all other reptiles, turtles are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature is determined by the temperature of the air or water. Turtles climb onto logs to bask in the sunlight to warm up. We use heat lamps in the Aquarium exhibits to create basking spots. Occasionally, turtles spend time in a special room under the glass peaks to be exposed to real sunlight. 11 Located on level 3 powerful jaws & sharp teeth webbed feet for swimming The Delta Country A swamp is a complex and beautiful ecosystem. Many insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds all share this habitat. The essential ingredient in this magnificent habitat is water. Rainfall, underground water tables, rivers and humidity all contribute to the lush conditions of the swamp. American alligator, alligator snapping turtle, wood duck, hooded merganser, sora, bald cypress, various turtles and songbirds As seafood becomes more difficult to obtain, people are beginning to focus on aquaculture, raising fish in captivity for food, to increase fish availability. Barramundi is a fish that is getting a lot of attention. The most sustainable way to raise them is in fully recirculating systems, but often they are raised in floating pens found in tropical waters around Australia and southeast Asia. Q: Why are barramundi a good choice for aquaculture?? A: They are hardy, fast-growing and high in omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial to humans. The freshwater whiptail ray lives in rivers along the northern coast of Australia. Its scientific name, Himantura dalyensis, indicates that it can be found in the Daly river where it shares space with sawfish and crocodiles. In the wild, freshwater whiptail rays have been seen quickly approaching riverbanks and pushing water ahead of them. It is believed that they do this to catch prey. Little is known about them, neither how they survive nor how habitat change is affecting them. Originally thought to be a similar ray found in southeast Asia, the whiptail ray was only recently described scientifically in 2008. 12 Located on level 3 RIVER GIANTS Nearly every continent is home to giant fish. These often elusive animals, reaching at least six feet in length, have long been prized by their hunters for offering sustenance and status. Now science is finding new value for these creatures as we learn that their presence indicates a healthy, biologically rich river. arapaima, alligator gar, giant pangasius catfish, barramundi, blue catfish, redtail catfish, giant whiptail ray One of the largest freshwater fishes, the arapaima averages eight feet in length, but can reach nearly 15 feet and weigh over 400 pounds. These fish are covered with tough rows of scales; native people dry these scales and use them as fingernail files and graters. Q: The arapaima is a powerful predator. After studying its mouth placement, do you think it feeds from the surface or the bottom? A: Notice its slightly upturned mouth. This allows it to feed from the surface, exploding from the water to swallow smaller fish. It sucks in its prey by suddenly opening its mouth, creating a current of rushing water that forces prey into its mouth. Conservation Note: River Giants share something in common: many of them could vanish from the wild in our lifetimes. Despite their size, or because of it, they face many threats. Overfishing, dams, pollution and habitat destruction are taking their toll. Being big and at the top of the food chain has advantages and disadvantages. North America is home to a number of large fish species. The largest that lives its entire life in freshwater is the alligator gar. Despite their vicious appearance and carnivorous diet, they tend to prey upon other smaller fishes and are harmless to humans. Though some claim to have been attacked by them, no reported events have been verified. Snakes such as the boa and the anaconda are constrictors. These snakes grasp their prey with curved teeth and immediately wrap around the potential meal in tight coils. The snake does not “crush” its prey, but squeezes tighter each time the prey animal exhales. Such constriction prevents the animal’s heart and lungs from functioning, thus suffocating the animal. The meal is then consumed head-first and whole. 13 Located on level 2 Rivers of the World Gallery Where there are rivers, there is life. Of all water on earth, less than three percent is freshwater and most of that is trapped in glaciers and ice caps. What remains, and upon which all life depends, is mostly found in rivers. Rivers are important to people, plants and animals that live in and around them. Cold water rivers, such as the Volga in Europe, contrast sharply with warm water rivers, like the Zaire in Africa. Both the habitats and the species that live within the waters are vastly different. Russian sturgeon, red piranha, koi, African dwarf crocodile, boa constrictor, pignose turtle, caiman lizard, aquatic caecilian The red-bellied piranha have been portrayed as vicious fish by Hollywood. Their razor-sharp teeth are capable of slicing one- inch chunks from their prey. However, unlike the behavior portrayed in movies, piranha behavior follows seasonal changes in the Amazon. During the rainy season, food is plentiful. During the dry season, food is scarce. Q: During which season do you think the piranha will become aggressive? Why? A: Piranha will feed on any available food source when they are starving during the dry season. Hide and Seek The colors and patterns of animals are incredibly beautiful, and they are often an important element in defense, reproduction and survival. Q: Can you find an animal in the Rivers gallery that exhibits the following colorations? 1. Camouflage helps an animal blend in with its surroundings in order to hide from predators or stalk prey. A: Examples of camouflaged animals are the mossy frogs and cichlid fish. 2. Warning colors or patterns are used to tell predators that animals are often poisonous or distasteful. A: Mandarin newts have bright orange or red spots on their backs. Fire-belly toads seem camouflaged until they raise up and expose their bright red bellies. 3. “False eyes” or black spots confuse predators which may attack these spots instead of the real eyes and the animal’s head. A: The four-eyed turtle has four eyespots on its neck, helping to confuse predators. What is That? I’m glad you asked! Believe it or not, this is a type of amphibian. Very different from frogs, salamanders, and others, this legless member is called a caecilian. Very little is known about these eel- like creatures that many people might assume are worms or snakes. Most species burrow underground, but these aquatic caecilians are active swimmers. Like other amphibians, caecilian young breathe with gills that are lost during metamorphosis. You may see our adults swim to the surface to use their lungs, but like many amphibians, they are able to “breathe” through their skin as well. To hunt for prey, caecilians have keen senses of smell and taste using a sensory tentacle that pokes out of their face. Most have reduced eyes that are covered by bone or skin. 14 Turtles are classified as reptiles along with snakes and alligators. Q: What characteristics do all reptiles share? What makes a turtle different from other reptiles? A: All reptiles are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature is regulated by their surroundings. Reptiles have dry, scaly skin and/or scales. They reproduce by laying shelled eggs on land or by live birth. Turtles have four legs and a hard shell. They do not have teeth, only sharp bony plates in their jaws for biting and tearing food. Turtles lay clusters of eggs in the soil or sand. The word turtle refers to all species of aquatic turtles and land turtles. The word tortoise refers to a particular type of turtle that is well adapted to life on land. Observe the turtles, paying special attention to their habitats. Q: What are the differences between aquatic turtles (live in water) and land turtles? How do their body shapes give them an advantage for survival in water or on land? A: Land turtles, or tortoises, tend to have domed shells which provide stability and help minimize temperature changes. Predators often cannot open their mouths wide enough to crack a high, rounded shell. Aquatic turtles tend to have flatter, smoother shells. Streamlined shells allow them to move through the water with ease. Tortoises have short, stubby legs to help maneuver on land, while aquatic turtles have webbed feet for swimming. Turtles protect themselves in many ways; most obvious is the turtle’s shell. Observe the variety of turtles, paying special attention to the ways they keep safe. Q: How many unusual methods of protection can you find? How might they help keep the turtle safe? A: The following are examples of just some of the more unusual methods of protection used by the turtles exhibited in the gallery. The pancake tortoise has a flattened, flexible shell, allowing it to find safety in the crevices of rocky outcroppings. Sideneck or snake-necked turtles have long S-shaped necks that bend and can be held tightly against the side of the body, making it difficult for predators to attack. The mata mata is a master of camouflage. Its shell is dark and is covered with algae, mosses and warty tubercles. The tubercles not only camouflage but also attract prey that the mata mata then eats. The Indian star tortoise gets its name from the star pattern on its shell. While it may not look camouflaged, it blends in perfectly with the grasses in which it lives. Young spiny turtles are like living pincushions, bearing sharp points around the shell, as well as small spines on the top. These points and spines deter many would-be predators. Conservation Note: Turtle populations are declining. Many turtles are collected from the wild and sold as pets, used as medicines and eaten for food. Habitats are being fragmented and infringed on as humans use more and more space. The Tennessee Aquarium is active in breeding and conservation efforts to protect threatened turtles around the world. Turtle World For thousands of years turtles have fascinated people all over the world. Turtles are amazingly adaptable. There are turtles that live in freshwater and in oceans, primarily on land or mostly in the water, in deserts or the tropics. Their shells can be high and domed, flat and smooth or ridged. Turtles’ necks can retract straight back within their shells or curve to the side in an “S” shape. The Tennessee Aquarium exhibits more freshwater turtle species than any other public facility. mata mata, snake-necked turtles, pig-nosed turtle, spiny turtle, pancake tortoise, Indian star tortoise, Chinese big-head turtle Located on level 2 Meet the Tennessee state reptile, the eastern box turtle. This turtle has a built-in advantage when it comes to protection from predators. The shell has been modified so that the turtle can completely withdraw its head and legs inside when there is danger. Hinges found on the shell enable it to close up tightly. 15 Darters are well suited to their life in swift flowing, rocky waters. Observe a darter and find an adaptation that helps it survive in its habitat. reduced swim bladder allows it to sink when not swimming strong pectoral fins help it hold its place among the rocks flattened belly for contact with stream bottoms Look near the surface of the water to find the webbed feet of our diving ducks. The ducks each have two legs, but sometimes you’ll see just one. No, the duck is not injured. Ducks often tuck one leg up into their downy feathers to help conserve body heat. How do you distinguish between a male and female turtle? For most turtles, initial observations do not distinguish between the two. However, many male aquatic turtles have long front claws while females have shorter front claws. During courtship, the male will wave his long claws in a female’s face, hoping to attract her as a mate. Tail length is another means for distinguishing males from females. Males tend to have longer tails while females have shorter thick tails. Fish feed in a variety of ways. Find the following fish in the Nickajack Lake exhibit that demonstrate unusual feeding methods. Paddlefish are named for their long, paddle-shaped snouts. They swim through the water with their mouths wide open. Their gills work like a strainer to filter plankton from the water. Gar are the long fish with the narrow tooth-filled mouths. They hang suspended just below the surface of the water until a smaller fish swims near, then quickly strike in a sideways motion impaling the fish with sharp teeth. Catfish, carp and buffalo are bottom-feeders. Their sucker-like mouths are found on the underside of their bodies. They swim along “vacuuming” up food from the bottom. Conservation Note: The Tennessee River was once perilous, unnavigable and periodically flooded its banks. In the 1930s, TVA constructed a series of dams and reservoirs to control flooding, make the river more navigable and to provide electricity. In addition to these benefits, the alteration of the river has also had adverse effects on wildlife, natural habitats and fisheries. Dams slow the river, causing increased sediments to settle out of the water. Sediments clog fish gills, interfering with oxygen exchange and filter feeding. Sediment particles settle to the bottom and smother fish eggs and aquatic insect larvae. Dams are barriers which block the spawning routes of fish who normally swim upstream to lay eggs. The sudden release of water from a dam changes the water depth and temperature quickly, killing some fish. Sudden swift flowing water can sweep fish into the dam or away from vital habitat. Depth changes can also affect the breeding grounds of fish. Tennessee River Gallery The Tennessee River begins flowing southward and turns northward until it reaches Paducah, Kentucky where it empties into the Ohio River. The Nickajack Lake exhibit depicts the section of the Tennessee River extending from Chickamauga Dam to Nickajack Dam and which flows past the Aquarium. Tennessee has more freshwater fauna than any state in the U.S. and nearly 300 species of native fish. As you explore this gallery, you will see plants and animals found in and around our local lakes and rivers. blue catfish, paddlefish, longnose gar, largemouth bass, bluegill, carp, Barrens topminnow, darters Located on level 2 The pirapatinga is related to the piranha. However, unlike its carnivorous relative, the pirapatinga is an herbivore, feeding on fruits and seeds. Aiding in seed dispersal, the pirapatinga plays an important role in the ecosystem. After ingesting the fruit, the seeds will be carried down the river and excreted along with nutrient-rich urea. The giant South American river turtle can grow to three and a half feet and lives in the Amazon river basin. Its smooth, short shell makes for easy swimming and the claws on its flippers are excellent tools for females to dig nests on sandy banks. Egg laying is timed during the dry season so the young turtles have time to hatch before the water rises. Building dams greatly affects this species’ ability to successfully reproduce because the wet/dry cycle is interrupted. These turtles can also be found on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago . Q: Why could these freshwater turtles travel through the ocean while most freshwater fish could not? A: Unlike fish, turtle’s bodies are closed systems. Changes in salinity would not have direct effects on their ability to live because the water is not passing through their internal systems. What’s In a Name? The names of many cichlids tell something about the fish’s appearance or behavior. The Red Devil is named for its red coloration and its aggression. Overcrowding in its habitat may lead to cannibalism. The Guapote Tigre or jaguar cichlid shows off spectacular color patterns during breeding season which resemble the markings of a jaguar or tiger. Most fish do not protect their fertilized eggs or fry; however, many cichlids exhibit some form of parental care for their young. The Midas cichlid female fans their eggs to prevent debris from covering them, while the male guards the perimeter around the nest keeping intruders at bay. Q: How does parental care give the eggs a better chance for survival? A: Fish lay hundreds or thousands of eggs, hoping that some survive. Eggs are an easy source of food for predators because they can’t protect themselves or swim away. However, parents can chase away predators, keeping their eggs and babies safe. Some cichlids also ensure the survival of their young by keeping debris from covering and smothering the eggs. With many babies, a few usually survive. Lake Nicaragua What was once a saltwater bay of the Pacific Ocean is now the largest lake in Central America. Lake Nicaragua was formed over thousands of years as the volcanic land along the Pacific coast of the country rose up and cut off this body of water from the ocean. Over time, the salt content was diluted so drastically that the lake is now freshwater. Many species of fish traditionally found in the ocean have adapted to this new environment. Tuna, swordfish, tarpon and shark are present in this lake, along with many freshwater species. Midas cichlid, Guapote cichlid, Nicaragua cichlid 16 Located on level 2 Flooded Amazon Here in the temperate United States, we experience four seasons. Tropical areas experience only two seasons: rainy and dry. During the rainy season in the Amazon, between 80 - 120 inches of rain can fall. This causes rivers to flood out of their banks and into the forests. When the water is high, food is plentiful. Some fish species are even adapted to feed on the seeds and fruits from trees when the water is high. pirapatinga, ripsaw catfish, giant South American river turtle, spiny palm tree er Gallery The Tennessee River begins flowing southward and turns northward until it reaches Paducah, Kentucky where it empties into the Ohio River. The Nickajack Lake exhibit depicts the section of the Tennessee River extending from Chickamauga Dam to Nickajack Dam and which flows past the Aquarium. Tennessee has more freshwater fauna than any state in the U.S. and nearly 300 species of native fish. As you explore this gallery, you will see plants and animals found in and around our local lakes and rivers. blue catfish, paddlefish, longnose gar, largemouth bass, bluegill, carp, Barrens topminnow, darters Located on level 2 The pirapatinga is related to the piranha. However, unlike its carnivorous relative, the pirapatinga is an herbivore, feeding on fruits and seeds. Aiding in seed dispersal, the pirapatinga plays an important role in the ecosystem. After ingesting the fruit, the seeds will be carried down the river and excreted along with nutrient-rich urea. The giant South American river turtle can grow to three and a half feet and lives in the Amazon river basin. Its smooth, short shell makes for easy swimming and the claws on its flippers are excellent tools for females to dig nests on sandy banks. Egg laying is timed during the dry season so the young turtles have time to hatch before the water rises. Building dams greatly affects this species’ ability to successfully reproduce because the wet/dry cycle is interrupted. These turtles can also be found on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago . Q: Why could these freshwater turtles travel through the oc