Tucked along Chattanooga’s gleaming downtown waterfront, Tennessee Aquarium boasts over 10,000 freshwater and saltwater species within two buildings.

Octopus at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee
[/media-credit] Octopus, Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga, Tenn.

“Some students love the playful antics of our lemurs and otters, while others are mesmerized by the constant pulsing of our jellyfish species,” said Brooke Gorman, director of science education at the aquarium. “Others spend a good amount of time viewing our vast collection of freshwater turtle species. Almost everyone enjoys our two touch tanks that allow students an opportunity to touch large sturgeon fish, barbless stingrays and a horseshoe crab.”

Popular educational programs include Seahorse Rescue Mission, Stream Scene, Plankton Power and Biodiversity. These programs allow students to test water for impurities, discuss effects on animal populations, design their own plankton and explore the diversity of life on earth through hands-on activities.

“When students visit the Tennessee Aquarium, we hope they have an outstanding experience,” Gorman said. “Some students take away a new appreciation for nature after observing the variety of plants and animals that exist. Other students might take away new ideas about actions they can take to conserve a favorite animal or plant.”

Dive show at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee
[/media-credit] Dive show, Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Critter Close-Up program is another popular activity among students; they get to meet different reptiles and amphibians, and learn about their habitats, environment roles and survival adaptations.

“Our mission at the Tennessee Aquarium is to connect people to nature and empower them to make informed decisions about water and wildlife,” Gorman said. “The aquarium also has a series of Extraordinary Experiences, which are programs that take place in our galleries. In these programs, visitors have a chance to hear information presented by an animal keeper and an educator. This format allows for a unique experience as guests can interact with keepers and learn about some of our animals.”

For more information, call 800-262-0695 or visit tnaqua.org.