published Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Fish shtick at Tennessee Aquarium - Dec. 26-Jan. 6

Seahorses at the Tennessee Aquarium
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    Bill Haley, Tennessee Aquarium education outreach coordinator, introduces some young visitors to a New Caledonian Giant Gecko during a lizard program.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Tennessee Aquarium has announced a schedule of Yuletide Fish-tivities designed to keep spirits bright during the 12 days after Christmas, Dec. 26-Jan. 6.

In addition to more than a dozen daily keeper talks, animal programs and dive shows, experts will offer activities that focus on the special gifts some of the creatures have to thrive in their habitats.

For instance, some have eye features that allow them to see equally on land and underwater. Others have offset ears to hear in surround-sound and extra vertebrae that allow them to see what’s directly behind them. Still others have skin that secretes a toxin or feathers that appear to change colors in the light.

Youngsters can join in penguin games, touch a shiny sea star or create an ocean creature craft to deck the halls at home.

“These mini-programs will be a lot of fun for the kids, but I think we’ll capture the imaginations of their parents and grandparents too,” says Carrie Howell, the Aquarium’s education coordinator. “We’ll pack in a lot of animal facts while providing opportunities to play games and make crafts to take home.”

For the more adventuresome, there will even be a few “scien-terrific” chances to dissect a squid or an owl pellet.

“Those are particularly engaging programs,” says Howell. “Kids think it’s cool and gross at the same time. But you know what, they always walk away smiling and ready to tell others about what they learned.”

Yuletide Fish-tivities are offered free with Aquarium admission: $24.95 for adults, $14.95 for children 3-12. The children’s activities are available each day on a first-come, first-served basis.

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    Sunday, Jan. 5 is a shark-theme day at the Tennessee Aquarium, with dive shows, a biofact station and a shark dress-up station for younger children.


* 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Craft and Information Table in River Journey lobby

Thursday, Dec. 26

* Theme: Colorful Fish — Finish the “colorful fish” scavenger hunt for a prize

* 10:30 a.m. and noon. Fish game in the River Journey auditorium

* 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Scavenger hunt handout and prizes in River Journey lobby

Friday, Dec. 27

* Theme: Cephalopods — Learn about octopus enrichment in a special keeper presentation and dissect a squid in one of the classrooms. Plus, make an octopus to take home.

* 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Squid dissection in Delta Swamp Classroom (limited to 20 children)

* Noon. Enrichment presentation in River Journey auditorium

Saturday, Dec. 28

* Theme: Sea Stars — Watch videos of sea stars eating, touch live sea stars and their relatives, and make an ocean craft.

* 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sea star video clips in Seahorse Gallery

* 10:30 a.m., 12:15, 1:15 and 2:30 p.m. Sea star programs in Ranger Rick’s Backyard

Sunday, Dec. 29

* Theme: Turtles and Toads — Meet turtles and one of the largest toad species in a special program, play a frog-leaping game and make a craft.

* 10:30 a.m., 12:15, 1:15 and 2:30 p.m. Turtles and Toads presentation in Ranger Rick’s Backyard

* 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Frog game in the River Journey auditorium

Monday, Dec. 30

* Theme: Penguins — Catch one of the daily penguin keeper presentations and fun games outside the penguin gallery. There will also be a few chances to go behind the scenes. For $6, add “Penguins 3D” at the Imax Theater to learn about the King Penguins of South Georgia Island.

* 10 a.m. and noon. Games outside Penguin Gallery

* 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Penguin keeper presentation

* Noon, 3 and 6 p.m. Showings of “Penguins 3D” at Imax

Tuesday, Dec. 31

* Theme: Ancient Animals — A scavenger hunt reveals which animals lived in the age of dinosaurs. What animals live at the Aquarium that also lived with dinosaurs? Find out in our “Ancient Animals” scavenger hunt. Special ancient animal presentations will happen in Ranger Rick’s Backyard so that you can learn even more about these amazing animals.

* 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Scavenger hunt handout and prizes in River Journey lobby

* 1 and 1:15 p.m. Ancient animal presentations in Ranger Rick’s Backyard

Wednesday, Jan. 1

* Theme: Seahorses — Meet a fish that can hold your hand, watch feedings, go behind the scenes, build a seahorse from the top down and try your skill at a plankton eating contest.

* 10:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Narrated seahorse feedings in Seahorse Gallery

* Noon. Seahorse celebration program in River Journey auditorium

Thursday, Jan. 2

* Theme: Snakes and Lizards — Includes a scavenger hunt, a special program and a craft to take home.

* 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Scavenger hunt handout and prizes in River Journey lobby

* 10:30 a.m., 12:15, 1:15 and 2:30 p.m. Reptile programs in Ranger Rick’s Backyard

Friday, Jan. 3

* Theme: Fintastic Freshwater Fish — Play a freshwater fish game, water feeding time and go behind the scenes.

* 10:45 and 11:15 a.m., 1:15 and 2:15 p.m. Pin the Fin on the Fish game in Tennessee River Galley

* 2 p.m. Feeding in Lake Nickajack

Saturday, Jan. 4

* Theme: Birds That Fly — Learn the science of flight during special presentations, play bird games, dissect an owl pellet and watch the photogenic feeding of the Delta Country songbirds.

* 10:15 a.m. “Bones and Feathers” presentation in River Journey auditorium

* 11:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Bird games or craft for kids in the auditorium

* Noon. Dissect an owl pellet in the Delta Swamp classroom (limited to 20 children)

* 1:30 p.m. “The Science of Flight” presentation in River Journey auditorium

Sunday, Jan. 5

* Theme: Sharks — Touch real shark teeth and skin at a biofact station and watch shark-themed dive shows. Younger children can dress up as a shark in the River Journey lobby for a great photo opportunity. Check out the Aquarium’s “Blue Water, White Death” shark cage. For $6, add “Great White Shark 3D” at the Imax Theater to go on a virtual cage dive with these massive ocean predators.

* 11 and 11:30 a.m., 2 and 2:30 p.m. Shark-themed dive shows

* 11 a.m.-noon, 2-3 p.m. Shark Biofact Cart in Ocean Journey

* 1 and 4 p.m. Showings of “Great White Shark 3D” at Imax

Monday, Jan. 6

* Theme: Humans Underwater — Learn about scuba diving from Aquarium experts during dive shows, dress up like a diver and take a picture to show your friends, make a dive mask to take home.

* 11 and 11:30 a.m., 2 and 2:30 p.m. The Science of Scuba Dive Shows

* 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Gear exploration table in Ocean Journey Level 2 (Outside Penguins’ Rock)

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