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“Thrills, Gills and Chills” Bigger Than Ever

New Creepy and Cool Animals at the Tennessee Aquarium

Chattanooga, Tenn. (October 8th, 2007) – Several new animals are debuting at the Tennessee Aquarium in time to make “Thrills, Gills and Chills” bigger than ever.  This month-long October event highlights the facts surrounding the predator / prey relationships in the natural world through special keeper talks, dive shows, graphics and activities.  Many of these new animals have a high “cool factor” because of their awesome or even weird appearance.

New Thrills at Shark Island – Visitors to the Aquarium’s Ocean Journey building will now be able to touch guitarfish (Rhinobatos productos).  These unusual fish look like as if they are part stingray and part shark.  They have ray-like fins and a pointy snout.  Guitarfish swim like a shark would, by moving its head from side to side.  The largest one on display at the Tennessee Aquarium is 30 inches, but females of this species can reach lengths of 5.5 feet.  Guitarfish are native to sand flats and sea grass beds on the western coast of the United States and Mexico.  Visitors who touch a guitarfish at the Tennessee Aquarium will notice that their skin is rough and shark-like, with ridges of “thorns” down their backs.

More Gills in The Secret Reef and Gulf of Mexico exhibits Over 500 colorful reef fish will be put on display in two saltwater exhibits at the Aquarium.  These fish will be moved from quarantine at our Animal Care Facility to the Gulf of Mexico display in River Journey and The Secret Reef exhibit in Ocean Journey. Forty species including beautiful angelfish and colorful butterflyfish will be added.  Introducing them will be a two step process to keep the new additions from being eaten. “We are releasing these fish into the introduction tank first to get them into the system and comfortable with the surroundings.  When they go into the water all of the fish in the exhibit sense them. Without proper introduction some of the fish could be preyed upon by others.  With proper introduction, we are able to move the new fish in and let them fill their niche,” says Thom Demas, the Aquarium’s curator of fishes.

Extra Chills in Boneless Beauties – Two new and amazing species of jellyfish can now be seen at the Tennessee Aquarium.

Thirty-five blubber jellyfish, (Catostylus mosaicus) have been added to the Boneless Beauties gallery.  These jellies were sent to Chattanooga from an aquarium in Hong Kong, but they are native to the warm coastal waters surrounding Australia.  Blubber jellies range in color from tan to blue and purple.  These gorgeous little jellyfish lack tentacles on the edge of their bell, a common characteristic of their family.

Blubber jellyfish have been making headlines in other parts of the world lately.  Overfishing may be to blame for tremendous increases in blubber jellyfish populations that have impacted some shipping.

Perfect for Halloween, three chilling black sea nettles are also new to the Boneless Beauties gallery.  The scientific name, Chrysaora achlyos comes from the Greek (achlys) meaning mist, darkness and obscurity.  This is a fitting description for this creature’s striking coloration and rare appearances along the California coast where it was first spotted.  These jellies are really quite striking.  They have a rosy colored bell, lacy oral arms, and white tentacles that set them apart from any other jellyfish at the Tennessee Aquarium.

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ONLINE press kits & downloadable images: http://www.tnaqua.org/Newsroom/Newsroom.asp

The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $19.95 per adult and $10.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $7.95 per adult and $5.50 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $24.95 for adults and $14.95 for children. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits. Call 267-FISH to join.



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