CHATTANOOGA, TN — The surf’s up a lot closer to home this Memorial Day weekend.
Families looking for an ocean adventure can find waves of fun in downtown Chattanooga with three exciting new offerings focused on aquatic life at the Tennessee Aquarium, IMAX 3D Theater, and Creative Discovery Museum – and one that lets visitors peer beneath the waters of the region’s freshwater streams and rivers without ever donning a mask and snorkel.
On the Aquarium plaza, the hallmark water features that mimic the winding route of the Tennessee River through the valleys of East Tennessee have restarted for the season. Inside, see the stunning re-creation of those underwater habitats in the brand-new Ridges to Rivers gallery.
Though millions live near the “underwater rainforests” of Southern Appalachia, few know of the vibrant life dwelling just beneath the water’s surface. Ridges to Rivers brings guests the experience of snorkeling legendarily clear headwater streams like the Conasauga River, where brilliantly colored shiners and fast-moving darters gather by the hundreds without dipping a toe in the water.
The gallery’s dynamic, multisensory exhibits allow guests to see, hear and touch just a few of the species found a mere stone’s throw from their back door. Whether they’re getting face-to-face with a bright orange Tangerine Darter or gently caressing the scutes of a primordial Lake Sturgeon, guests will build a deeper connection with the wild around them and, hopefully, gain an appreciation for the life swimming in the waters right here at home.
Viewers can discover the stunning mutual relationships between the Earth’s marine life in Secrets of the Sea 3D, a new giant-screen adventure at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater. Presented locally by Ben & Jerry’s Chattanooga, the film celebrates the ocean’s symbiotic partnerships with a laser focus on captivating animal behaviors.
“This is a film about how animals cooperate to survive,” says cinematographer Jonathan Bird, who also hosts the nature program Jonathan Bird’s Blue World.
From stunning sequences of shy and reclusive dugongs sending shrimp into the waiting mouths of Golden Trevally to footage of tiny cleaner fish polishing the jaws of toothy sharks, Bird and fellow filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall (Into the Deep, Under the Sea 3D) deliver footage that goes beyond the “Big fish eats little fish” narrative to show the majestic interdependency of the oceans’ marine life.
“What you will see on every single dive is fish cooperating,” Bird says. “Every dive, you will see symbiosis; you will see animals helping each other survive, even sharks.”
Eager undersea enthusiasts can speak with Bird in person on Thursday, May 25, when he will be available for a presentation and Q&A following a special event and screening of the film beginning at 5:30 pm. Attendees will receive a free sample of Phish Food Ice Cream (with two other flavors available) courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s Chattanooga.
Disney’s animated classic gets a live-action reboot (also at IMAX) in the feature-length release The Little Mermaid premiering Friday, May 26. Starring Halle Bailey, this new retelling of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale follows in the footsteps of The Jungle Book and The Lion King to deliver a fresh take on a beloved masterpiece.
The Creative Discovery Museum’s newest temporary exhibit brings the Wild Kratts to life with a focus on cultivating STEM skills in children with Wild Kratts: Ocean Adventure!
Sponsored locally by Tennessee American Water, young explorers become immersed in aquatic exhibits at the museum while following in the footsteps of zoological adventurers Chris and Martin Kratt. Along the way, kids will tap into incredible sea creature, “superpowers.”
“This exhibit will get kids moving and thinking while they explore important concepts in science and the natural world,” says Chris Kratt, executive producer of Wild Kratts and co-founder of The Kratt Brothers Company
Children will be introduced to age-appropriate science concepts as they crawl and climb through re-creations of tide pools and anemones, scrub fearsome jaws at shark cleaning stations, and adventure through the darkest depths of the deepest sea to hunt like a dragonfish.
The waves of fun can continue inside the Aquarium’s Ocean Journey building, where guests can gently touch rays and sharks at Stingray Bay, marvel at deep-water Flashlight Fish, and peer at anemones and sea stars from beneath the breaking waves of the Vancouver Island exhibit.
For complete IMAX showtimes and more information, visit https://tnaqua.org/imax/.
Register for the special Secrets of the Sea 3D screening with Jonathan Bird at https://community.tnaqua.org/events/2023-events/secrets-of-the-seas-public.
Learn about Ridges to Rivers, the Wild Kratts: Ocean Adventure! and all the waves of fun found in Chattanooga this summer at https://tnaqua.org/waves-of-fun/.