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Megafish Coming to Tennessee Aquarium
There's something primal that leads people to wonder what's lurking below the surface of any large river. Humans seem to be hardwired to be both fascinated by, and somewhat fearful of, Volkswagen-sized catfish. Soon a remarkable collection of freshwater fish that can reach such legendary sizes will be on display at the Tennessee Aquarium. The new River Giants exhibit, opening April 28th, features amazing species that grow to enormous proportions in the wild. “These guys are the Goliaths of freshwater,” said Thom Demas, the Aquarium’s curator of fishes. “And, for the first time anywhere, people will have an opportunity to see a global collection of these giants in a single display."
Giant pangassius catfish, that can reach lengths of more than nine feet in the wild, will be joined by a seven foot beluga sturgeon, impressive Australian whiprays, beefy barramundi and a menagerie of other freshwater creatures from around the world. Demas says some species like marbled eels, ghostly-white alligator gar and wallago will add a bit of the weird to this collection of monster fish. “The wallago catfish is one of my personal favorites,” said Demas. “It has the face of a bullhead and an eel-like body. In Southeast Asia, wallago can grow to eight feet in length.”
Redtail catfish, feisty fish with unique markings and very long whiskers, will be another crowd favorite. They'll be found prowling near the bottom of the exhibit while prehistoric-looking arapaima slowly patrol the waters above. Demas predicts guests will snap a lot of pictures of these massive predators. “The arapaima don’t just look powerful, they’re more than 100 pounds of pure, angry muscle.” Demas and other staffers have been in the water working with lots of massive fish while getting the exhibit ready for visitors.
National Geographic Explorer Dr. Zeb Hogan has also had many face-to-face encounters with titanic freshwater fish. Among the 20 species he’s highlighted for his popular National Geographic television series, “Monster Fish,” Hogan’s team documented a 650 pound Mekong catfish and a freshwater stingray with a 12-foot diameter. Hogan will be in Chattanooga for the Aquarium’s 20th Anniversary and grand opening of the River Giants exhibit on April 28th. “It’s pretty easy to love, and to be curious about, these fish,” said Hogan. “They are really hard to find in the wild and most of them occur in very remote parts of the world. The River Giants exhibit is great because, while most of us are not going to have a chance to come face-to-face with a giant catfish or freshwater rays in the wild, we’re afforded that opportunity by going to the Tennessee Aquarium.”
In spite of their ability to reach jaw-dropping sizes in the wild, most of these river giants are facing extinction in our lifetime. Some megafish species have recently disappeared forever. Hogan went searching for the Chinese paddlefish but ended up documenting what others had suspected – that this species is now extinct. “I worked with the scientist who had been searching the Yangtze River for these fish for decades,” said Hogan. “My understanding is the last Chinese paddlefish was seen in early 2007.”
A seven-foot lake sturgeon will be among the river giants in the new display. It represents hope for the other freshwater species on the brink. Today anglers are reporting these ancient-looking fish along virtually the entire length of the Tennessee River. Hogan points to the work of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute and its partners as a model for other giant fish that are vanishing. He believes that making a connection to these species by watching Monster Fish or seeing some of them first-hand in River Giants is an important step toward helping other big species. “We need to increase awareness to make sure everyone knows what’s happening in the wild,” said Hogan. “Without that knowledge, there’s no support to try and better protect these species.”
Collaborating with National Geographic on this new exhibit extends the freshwater conservation focus that has been the Tennessee Aquarium's hallmark since opening in 1992. The National Geographic Society’s global freshwater initiative aims to inspire and empower individuals to preserve the extraordinary diversity of freshwater.
“We are proud to collaborate with the Tennessee Aquarium and work with our explorer Zeb Hogan to protect life that rivers, lakes and wetlands sustain,” said Alexander Moen, Vice President of Explorer Programs at National Geographic. “The magnificent creatures showcased in this exhibit shine a bright light on the relationship we have with our planet and help tell stories that are trademark of National Geographic.”
River Giants is yet another example of how visitors can have fun tapping into their fascination with some of the world's most interesting fish. “We have a lot of amazing animals in both Aquarium buildings," said Demas. “And I think this new collection of fish is a great way to celebrate the Aquarium's freshwater roots on the Tennessee River.”
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Last Update on March 10, 2014 07:11 GMT
SHEILA MacRAE DIES
ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) -- The second Alice Kramden has died. Actress Sheila MacRae died Thursday in Englewood, New Jersey, at the age of 92. Her daughter says MacRae died of old age. MacRae is probably best known for playing Alice on "The Jackie Gleason Show" from 1966 to 1970. Audrey Meadows played Alice in the 1950s version of "The Honeymooners." MacRae also played Madelyn Richmond on "General Hospital.'"'
Sound of Sheila MacRae and her then-husband Gordon MacRae, singing "Love is a Simple Thing." Sheila MacRae has died at 92.
MAX CHARLES - "MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN"
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The boy who voices Sherman in the film "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" is just a regular kid. Ten-year-old Max Charles says he got a basketball hoop for Christmas, so he plays a lot of basketball. He also rides his bike and skateboards. Charles says he likes that Sherman sort of looks like him. He says the animators gave Sherman the same facial expressions he did when he was doing the voice.
Max Charles says he likes that Sherman looks a little bit like him.
<<CUT ..006 (03/10/14)>> 00:14 "I'm like what"
Max Charles says he has a favorite scene from "Mr. Peabody and Sherman."
<<CUT ..007 (03/10/14)>> 00:16 "of different things"
Max Charles says he's a normal 10-year-old.
WES ANDERSON USES ODD TECHNIQUES FOR NEW FILM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Film audiences who see "The Grand Budapest Hotel" directed by Wes Anderson might be struck at how old-fashioned some of his techniques are. Anderson mixes in miniatures and he filmed a chase scene with figurines. Anderson says he sees "a great deal of artificiality" in James Bond movies, and we accept that style of special effects as reality. Anderson says miniatures and animations are like magic tricks with a certain charm and he assumes that everyone knows his films are "a kind of a concoction."
NEW YORK (AP) -- The battle of the Persians versus the Greeks wins the battle of the box office. The film "300: Rise of an Empire" brought in $45.1 million in its opening weekend, putting it at number one. It's a sequel to the 2007 film "300." "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" made its debut in second with $32.5 million. Last week's number one, "Non-Stop," came in third with $15.4 million. "The Lego Movie" was fourth, "Son of God" was fifth and "The Monuments Men" was in sixth. Thanks to its best picture win at the Oscars, "12 Years A Slave" saw a resurgence, with $2.2 million in sales, even though it came out on DVD last week.
AP correspondent Margie Szaroleta reports the sequel to "300" outsold the movie remake of a 50's and '60s cartoon.
<<CUT ..003 (03/10/14)>> 00:16 ""
Excerpt of Sullivan Stapleton
Excerpt of Sullivan Stapleton in scene from "300: Rise of an Empire"
SCHOOL WILL STAGE MUSICAL VERSION OF "CARRIE"
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- A suburban Detroit school is standing by its decision to stage a musical version of the Stephen King book "Carrie." Parents have complained that it's an inappropriate choice for a spring musical for North Farmington High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. One parent calls it "arrogant" and "insensitive" to put on a show that ends with a mass murder in a high school. Principal Joe Greene says the musical is a way of looking at the impact of bullying and mental illness.
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