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Visiting Ripley's Aquarium - I

an article by Carli Flenniken

The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN is one of the newer additions to the tourist area, opening in December 2000. It was a 66 million dollar project that took workers working every day for three years to complete. The result was an 115,000 square foot structure housing 1.3 million gallons of water (5 million liters)  and 6,000+ aquatic species as well as some amphibians and reptiles.

     

     This photo was taken at the entrance of the aquarium. My daughter examines the large collection of mixed salt-water fish, including angelfish, spadefish, and many others from the Carolinas to the Caribbean. Luckily we arrived at opening, and the crowds weren’t there yet!

    After walking through the initial foyer, there is a balcony and below shows the “Discovery Center”

where you can handle horseshoe crabs (that we will be seeing later) and directly above are skeletons of various sea creatures, such as this sea turtle.

 

   The first section you come to is the Tropical Rainforest exhibit.  This exhibit features arowana, arapaima, tiger shovelnose catfish, piranha, and many others, as well as the red tail catfish (Phractocephalus hemiliopterus) and what appears to be a pacu (Colossoma macropomus) shown above.

 

     Further into the same exhibit is dedicated to some of the odder species of the rainforest, such as the four-eyed fish, the Anableps (Anableps anableps) of Mexico. The eyes of this fish are divided horizontally into two sections, allowing it to see above and below the water at the same time. Unfortunately photographing this fish and managing to focus above and below the water at the same time to get a clear shot proved to be beyond my abilities.

 

      Reptiles, such as this Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) are also represented. These particular specimens are absolutely huge; the one in the photograph is at the very least 5 feet long.

Continued in next page

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