Wednesday, October 17, 2007

TN Aquarium

I went with a group of volunteers from the Georgia Aquarium today to visit the Aquarium in Chattanooga, TN. I've been there before, but it was before they added the new building. We met up this morning at the mall and rode in a chartered bus to TN.

Our first thing was to have a behind the scenes tour. Very interesting to see. Definitely smaller than our facility, but that much I already knew. We were able to see the pump rooms, their kitchens, the top of their two main exhibits and a bit more as well. The most interesting part of it for me, though, was being able to talk to their volunteers about their experiences at their aquarium.

If you've never visited, the first building they call "River Adventure". You start at the bottom of the building with their sea horse area. Lots of really neat sea horses and pipe fish. My photos only came out so-so, though. From their you go to the top of the building and slowly work your way back down. It's a great example of the rivers you'd find in TN and GA, with lots of trout, catfish and other native fish. It also has some nice examples of fish from the Amazon and China, but those exhibits are not as big. You gradually work your way down to the "lower levels" of the river and lake exhibits.

In the second building, you start all the way at the top. From there you have a touch pool of rays and guitar fish. They have a couple of hyacinth macaws and a small exhibit of fresh water rays to one side. At the end of this floor is a butterfly room. Very pretty, very friendly butterflies. Those pics came out great, I'll share them later.

You then get to go downstairs and meet their penguins. The further you go, it opens into more of an ocean area where you can watch sharks and other Gulf of Mexico type fish. Very nicely done.

Outside of the Aquarium they have a 'river' that the kids can splash around in. There are also several restaurants in the area, but no food available inside either building of their facility.

All in all, I enjoyed myself (as did all of my fellow volunteers). I still consider myself very spoiled, though, to get to volunteer at the Georgia Aquarium. It has more "wow" to me and that's what I love about it. They're very different, though, so other than 'features' you really can't compare them directly. I can honestly recommend both, though I'll more than likely stick closer to home. :)

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