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Dr. Sylvia Earle coming to Chattanooga March 4

Feb 23, 2022

Legendary oceanographer helps launch Ocean Odyssey 3D at the Tennessee Aquarium  IMAX 3D Theater

Chattanooga, Tenn. (Feb. 23, 2022) – To begin to understand water’s role on our planet, you need only view it from orbit. Seen from this rarefied, lofty perspective, Earth is a stunningly beautiful patchwork quilt — one in which the color blue predominates.

Water covers 71 percent of Earth’s surface, and almost all of it, about 97 percent, is found in the world ocean. This enormous habitat is home to countless marine species, and like an animal, itself, its vast interwoven network of currents serve as a kind of circulatory system that dramatically impacts everything from marine food webs and shipping to global weather patterns.

On Friday, March 4, audiences at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater will be able to explore these life-rich marine superhighways with the premiere of Ocean Odyssey 3D, featuring famed marine biologist, author and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Dr. Sylvia Earle.

Ocean Odyssey … takes the viewer into the sea, into the blue heart of the planet,” Dr. Earle says in a testimonial. “It’s in the ocean that the greatest abundance and diversity of life actually lives. It’s the ocean that shapes climate and weather.

“This film not only shows what is out there — down there — and why we should care, but also what we can do, while there is still time, to make a difference.”

Mother humpback whale and calf

Ocean Odyssey 3D follows a mother Humpback Whale and her calf as they undertake an epic voyage buoyed by the East Australian Current. By merging onto this oceanic thoroughfare, these intrepid marine mammals journey 1,800 miles from the waters near the Great Barrier Reef to feeding grounds off the coast of Antarctica.

Along the way, mother and calf encounter many residents of the Pacific and Southern Oceans, from dolphins and sea lions to clownfish and sharks. The film also explores some of the changing conditions that threaten the stability of oceanic currents, from ocean pollution and acidification to climate change.

“The time was right to tell this story,” says Nick Robinson, the film’s director and producer. “We now know too much about the importance of oceanic ecosystems not to pay attention to the science and act to preserve our planet’s most vital life support system.

“One of the key messages that we carry through … is that of hope. It’s not too late to reverse the damage from pollution or overfishing. All along the East Australian Current, there are marine parks that clearly demonstrate that when we look after these environments they do bounce back.”

A green sea turtle

To celebrate the launch of the film and to kick off the Aquarium’s yearlong 30th anniversary commemoration, the March 4 premiere will feature a post-screening presentation in the theater by Dr. Earle.

Audiences will learn more about Dr. Earle’s storied career as a scientist, explorer and ocean advocate — roles so impactful The New Yorker bestowed upon her the moniker “Her Deepness.” She also will discuss growing threats to ocean life, including the swelling tide of microplastic pollution, as well as offering insights into her latest book, National Geographic Ocean: A Global Odyssey.

This presentation is Dr. Earle’s first at the Tennessee Aquarium in more than a decade. Even 12 years ago, however, she was stressing how special and vital oceans are to the only known safe harbor for life in the universe.

“[Earth] is it,” she told audience members in 2010. “There is no other place that is blessed, not just with abundant liquid water, but water filled with life. [That] life that gives us life. Our lives are really inextricably linked to all of the other creatures who occupy the planet.”

Guests seeking to enhance their Ocean Odyssey 3D experience can visit the Aquarium, where they’ll explore the Secret Reef exhibit. This massive, 618,000-gallon habitat — the Aquarium’s largest — replicates the bustling waters of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary with schooling reef fish, Cownose Rays, Sandbar and Sand Tiger Sharks and an enormous Green Sea Turtle named “Stewie.”

A sea lion

The Flower Garden Banks constitute a pearl string of reefs in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana and Texas. These fragile, biodiverse underwater sites were identified by Mission Blue/The Sylvia Earle Alliance — Dr. Earle’s nonprofit — as a “hope spot,” one of 140 locations deemed to be critical to ocean health.

Copies of National Geographic Ocean: A Global Odyssey will be available in the Aquarium gift shops. Attendees to the film’s premiere can preorder a copy of Dr. Earle’s book online that will be signed and personalized by the author and made available for pickup at the event.

Tickets to the premiere are $15 for Aquarium members and $20 for non-members. Capacity will be limited, and advance registration is encouraged. To pre-register for the event, visit community.tnaqua.org/events/2022-events/sylvia-earle

Additional information about Ocean Odyssey 3D and a screening schedule are available at tnaqua.org/imax/ocean-odyssey-3d/

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