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Earth Day Events at the Tennessee Aquarium

4/14/2011 1:54:13 PM

The Tennessee Aquarium's Party for the Planet is a day of fun and learning.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  Contact: Thom Benson 423-785-3007

Tennessee Aquarium Earns TN Green Hospitality Certification
Broad Range of Earth Day Events Ahead

Chattanooga, Tenn. (April 14, 2011) – The Tennessee Aquarium recently earned the Tennessee Green Hospitality Certification, becoming one of the first major tourist attractions in the state to achieve this designation. To become certified, the Aquarium had to complete an application and third-party, on-site audit of all business practices. “We are very proud of this green certification,” said the Aquarium’s education director Tim Baker. “It serves as both a benchmark for our current sustainable practices and a roadmap for continued environmental improvement.”

The Tennessee Green Hospitality Certification is awarded on a point system and must be renewed with another audit every two years to remain in force. Each staff member and volunteer has been “deputized” as part of the Aquarium’s GO GREEN team, participating in the certification process, providing suggestions for environmental improvement and putting sustainable practices in place at home. An overview of the Aquarium’s green processes and an offer for a free programmable thermostat for homeowners is available at: http://www.tnaqua.org/Conservation/GreenPractices.aspx

Oil Spill Lessons, Milk Jug Messages, Lake Sturgeon Release and other Green Events

Learning from the Deepwater Horizon Disaster
On April 20th, 2010 the world was shocked when an explosion sent a towering ball of fire into the sky over the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and opening up an underwater gusher of oil. The resulting images of oil-soaked wildlife, wetlands and closed beaches were heart-wrenching leaving many of us to wonder what the Gulf coast is facing one year later.

Dr. Larry McKinney, the executive director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, (HRI) has some answers.

His organization focuses on the Gulf’s overall environmental health and strives to develop public policy, encourage international responsibility and help people understand the scope of the Gulf’s importance through educational outreach. “One year later, we are still in a diagnostic phase that may take several years to complete,” said McKinney. “We believe it may take another one to two years for beaches and some fisheries to recover. Wetlands may take up to five more years to recover along with some bird species. We’re using submersibles to take a look at the deeper aquatic communities, but some impacts may not be uncovered for a couple of years.”

McKinney will be at the Tennessee Aquarium to speak to school groups and the public as part of a NOAA-supported ocean literacy program on April 21st.  McKinney hopes everyone will recognize the Gulf’s importance and ongoing threats to this natural resource while attention is focused on the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. “The good news is the Gulf is a tremendously resilient body of water,” McKinney said. “Because of its location, there’s an amazing amount of biodiversity, and the keystone species have the ability to rebound from short-term events. But, there are limits so we need to act now.”

Message in a Milk Jug
One of the ongoing threats is pollution that occurs inland, traveling from rivers into the Gulf. It only takes a tiny bit of oil, gasoline or other chemicals to contaminate 1,000 gallons of water.

Families with children ages six and older are invited to the Aquarium Plaza on Saturday, April 23rd from 8:00 am to 10:30 am for a hands-on illustration of scale. Julia Gregory, senior Aquarium educator, will help participants set up 1,000 one-gallon milk jugs along the stream between River Journey and Ocean Journey. They’ll learn how tiny drops can impact a large amount of water. Then they’ll stomp the jugs flat for recycling and round out the morning with a water conservation game. For additional information or to register for this free event, go to: http://www.tnaqua.org/Events/Events.aspx

Freshwater Giants Released in Chattanooga
Clean water in the Tennessee River not only helps animals in the Gulf of Mexico, it also helps the Tennessee Aquarium restore the lake sturgeon in our backyard. More than 108,000 fish have been reintroduced since the “Saving the Sturgeon” program began 11 years ago. The Tennessee Aquarium along with other state and federal conservation organizations will be joined by students from Ivy Academy on Thursday, April 21st at 1:00 pm for a special Earth Day sturgeon release. The public is invited to watch as 30 to 35 large lake sturgeon are released under the Market Street Bridge in Chattanooga’s Coolidge Park. “This is a great opportunity for everyone to see a successful and ongoing conservation program in action right in the middle of the city,” said Dr. Anna George, the director of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute. “It’s a fun opportunity for people to enjoy a lunch break and talk to our team and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency biologists.”

Party for the Planet
Two buildings won’t be big enough to contain all of the events at the Aquarium’s Party for the Planet celebration on Saturday, April 30th from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm.

Celebrate the natural world on the Aquarium Plaza with lively music, fun conservation crafts and games that will help everyone discover ways to save money while protecting our natural resources. More than one dozen community organizations will be on hand to help families discover how to care for our planet with free, hands-on activities and information.

Inside River Journey and Ocean Journey, special keeper talks and animal encounters will keep everyone engaged. “Adapting at Depth,” a three-part work of dance inspired by research on the effect of noise pollution on marine mammal communication, will be performed in the River Journey auditorium at 1:30 pm and 2:15 pm. These performances are free with Aquarium admission. To learn more about the Tennessee Aquarium’s Party for the Planet, go to: http://www.tnaqua.org/PartyforthePlanet.aspx

Rotten Tomatoes Bananas for Conservation Film
The newest film at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater, “Born to be Wild 3D,” takes audiences on an amazing journey to Borneo and Kenya to meet conservation groups working tirelessly to save endangered baby orangutans and elephants. Stunning photography makes it seem as though viewers can touch these orphaned animals. The compelling stories of these two rescue groups make this film a perfect addition to Earth Day observances. 

The movie is every bit as entertaining as it is informational according to critics. RottenTomatoes.com, a movie industry website that collects professional and individual film critiques gives Born to be Wild 3D an amazingly high score of 97 out of 100 on the famous, “Tomatometer.” To learn more about the film or to purchase tickets online, go to: http://www.tnaqua.org/IMAX/IMAX.aspx

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