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ODDtober at the Tennessee Aquarium celebrates the weird, wonderful and sometimes spooky side of wildlife

Sep 29, 2023

Chattanooga, Tenn. (Sept. 29, 2023) – In the lead-up to Halloween, people devote time and money to creating or purchasing elaborate costumes that transform them into fun – or eerie – alter-egos. However, humans are far from all alone when it comes to changing up their appearance. 

At the Tennessee Aquarium, some animals’ aptitude for camouflaging or mimicry would put even the most-devoted costumer to shame.

Nature abounds with examples of animals using deception or an amazingly adaptable appearance to survive. Giant Pacific Octopuses, for example, use complex pigment-altering cells beneath their skin to change color and blend seamlessly into their environmentJapanese Spider Crabs undergo regular “costume changes” by molting and crawling out of their shells.

A Japanese Spider Crab in Tennessee Aquarium’s Boneless Beauties gallery.

A Japanese Spider Crab in Tennessee Aquarium’s Boneless Beauties gallery.

This year, the Aquarium’s annual ODDtober celebration during the month of October will shine a spotlight on these and other animals who use misdirection, mimicry, camouflage, and other novel survival strategies. ODDtober begins Oct. 1 and runs all of October. **NOTE: The Tennessee Aquarium and IMAX 3D Theater will be closed for a special event on Sunday, October 22.**

During an ODD-yssey through the Aquarium this month, guests will encounter animals in disguises of their own making. Creatures like the bumpy-skinned Vietnamese Mossy Frog have adapted to use their green and brown hues and knobby texture to evade predators by appearing as nothing more than a knot on a log. 

Other animals’ weirdness stems from their strange similarities to their namesakes. That’s no porcupine floating in the Aquarium’s Island Nursery exhibit – it’s a Porcupinefish, a type of pufferfish with defensive spines. Likewise, the Aquarium hasn’t stuffed an enormous African Elephant into its Congo River exhibit. Rather, the diminutive Elephantnose Fish earned its name thanks to the trunk-shaped sensory appendage protruding from its chin

A Vietnamese Mossy Frog in Tennessee Aquarium’s Rivers of the World gallery.

A Vietnamese Mossy Frog in Tennessee Aquarium’s Rivers of the World gallery.

Even the Aquarium’s most adorable residents possess some alarmingly spooky traits that will be highlighted during ODDtober.  

Some of these will be featured in content across the Aquarium’s social platforms, such as Ring-tailed Lemurs “stink fighting” each other, a glimpse at the rows of needle-like teeth in penguins’ mouths, and butterflies’ tendency to dine on rotten fruit.

In its usual ODDtober tradition, the Aquarium will be decked out with plenty of hair-raising decorations, including the return of resident c-eelebrity Miguel Wattson’s pumpkin lights. This festive display glows in response to sensors triggered whenever the Electric Eel discharges inside his exhibit. 

Volunteer divers Dr. Lisa Shier, left, and Marie Dement carve pumpkins in the Tennessee Aquarium's Tennessee River exhibit for the month of ODDtober.

As a special ODDtober bonus, each Saturday at 2 p.m. (Eastern), costumed SCUBA divers will show off some truly gourd-geous underwater pumpkin-carving skills.  

After their spooktacular tour of the Aquarium, guests visiting during October can snag a free collectible sticker from the gift shop (while supplies last). Just mention ODDtober at the register! 

At the IMAX 3D Theater, two 45-minute films invite viewers to discover some of nature’s most mysterious environments.

  • Ancient Caves 3D adventures into some of the planet’s most remote caves, above and below the water.
  • Secrets of the Sea 3D reveals how the ocean is a more cooperative environment than most people believe. 
An American Alligator carries a pumpkin in the Tennessee Aquarium's Delta Country swamp.

An American Alligator carries a pumpkin in the Delta Country swamp at the Tennessee Aquarium.

ODDtober concludes with Aquascarium, the Aquarium’s spooky – but not too spooky – and family-friendly Halloween celebration on Friday, Oct. 27. This single-day event invites guests to don their favorite costumes to explore the Aquarium after hours, where they’ll find animals putting in appearances or behaving in ways rarely seen during regular visiting hours. 

As they adventure past fearsome pirates guarding Stingray Bay, make friends with mermaids, and meet beloved costumed characters SCUBA diving in the Aquarium’s exhibits, AquaScarium attendees can collect enough candy at trick-or-treat stations to satisfy any eager Halloween reveler’s sweet tooth

Aquascarium begins at 4 p.m. with the final entry at 7 p.m. Both Aquarium buildings close promptly at 8 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance online and are $8 each for Aquarium members ages 5 and up and $38 each for non-members ages 5 and up. There are no timed entry tickets for Aquascarium, and children must be accompanied by an adult. 

ODDtober is sponsored by Food City.

To learn more about ODDtober and Aquascarium, visit tnaqua.org/oddtober  

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