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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.”
More Entertainment News
Last Update on April 24, 2014 07:10 GMT
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Keith Urban says you never forget your first time. The first time you get booed. The crowd didn't like it when Urban was critical of Alex Preston's version of "Animal" on "American Idol" last night. J-Lo noted they were hearing the first boos for Urban on the show. But the judges were blown away by Caleb Johnson. He didn't lose his cool when his mic stand got away from him. J-Lo says he even stayed on beat. The top six did two songs each, one rock and one country. CJ Harris could be in the most trouble. Neither of his songs wowed the judges. One of the top six gets the ax tonight.
<<CUT ..001 (04/24/14)>> 00:26 ""
Jena (JEE'-nah) Irene, performing "Barracuda"
Jena Irene performing "Barracuda." COURTESY: Fox ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..002 (04/24/14)>> 00:14 "cut loose baby"
Keith Urban says Jena Irene is good but could be even better. OURTESY: Fox ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..003 (04/24/14)>> 00:27 ""
Alex Preston, performing "Animal"
Alex Preston performing "Animal." COURTESY: Fox ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..004 (04/24/14)>> 00:19 "forget your first"
Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez
The crowd doesn't like it when Keith Urban is critical of Alex Preston. COURTESY: Fox ((mandatory on-air credit)) ((note length of cut))
<<CUT ..005 (04/24/14)>> 00:29 ""
Caleb Johnson, performing "Sting Me"
Caleb Johnson performing "Sting Me." COURTESY: Fox ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..006 (04/24/14)>> 00:09 "beat I was (cheers)"
Jennifer Lopez says she can't believe Caleb Johnson's cool when he lost the mic. COURTESY: Fox ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..007 (04/24/14)>> 00:10 "impossible to beat"
Harry Connick Jr.
Harry Connick Jr. says Caleb Johnson couldn't have been better. COURTESY: Fox ((mandatory on-air credit))
UNDATED (AP) -- Tony the cop is getting awfully paranoid on "Survivor." He's been spying on his alliance members and was sure he was headed for a fall in the Tribal Council. But it was Woo who took a fall -- of the very real variety. Woo tumbled out of a tree on last night's episode but was only shaken up a bit. Later, a frantic Tony managed to find a super Hidden Immunity Idol. But he didn't use it. Spencer did use his Hidden Immunity Idol in the Tribal Council, but it turns out he didn't need it. The vote came down to Woo and Jeremiah and it's Jeremiah who comes up short. Jeremiah says he did his best and thought he had a shot at the million bucks.
<<CUT ..008 (04/24/14)>> 00:18 "by the way (music fades)"
Jeff Probst and Tony Vlachos
Spencer plays a Hidden Immunity Idol, drawing scorn from Tony. COURTESY: CBS and Mark Burnett Productions ((mandatory on-air credit)) ((note length of cut))
<<CUT ..009 (04/24/14)>> 00:15 "me your torch (music fades)"
"Survivor" host Jeff Probst announces the results of the Tribal Council vote. COURTESY: CBS and Mark Burnett Productions ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..010 (04/24/14)>> 00:11 "had the chance"
Jeremiah Wood, contestant voted off
Jeremiah says he did his best. COURTESY: CBS and Mark Burnett Productions ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..011 (04/24/14)>> 00:14 ""
Excerpt of "Survivor: Cagayan" theme
Excerpt of "Survivor: Cagayan" theme. COURTESY: CBS and Mark Burnett Productions ((mandatory on-air credit))
JODIE FOSTER GETS MARRIED
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jodie Foster has gotten married. Foster tied the knot with Alexandra Hedison, who's a photographer and actress who was in "The L Word." They'd been dating since last summer. Hedison is Ellen DeGeneres' ex. DeGeneres dated her in between Anne Heche and her current wife, Portia de Rossi. Hedison's father is David Hedison, who starred in "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" in the 60s.
GQ'S FUNNIEST PEOPLE ALIVE
NEW YORK (AP) -- Louis (LOO'-ee) C.K. tops GQ's list of the Funniest People Alive. Amy Schumer comes in second, followed by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, the stars of "Key and Peele." The cast of Mike Judge's new series "Silicon Valley" take up spots five-through-ten. In eleventh place is SNL's Kate McKinnon. Then comes John Oliver, Kevin Hart, Nick Kroll and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
PEOPLE'S MOST BEAUTIFUL PERSON
NEW YORK (AP) -- When she was 16, Lupita Nyong'o (loo-PEE'-tuh nee-YONG'-goh) never would have believed she'd be named People magazine's Most Beautiful person. She didn't like her looks and wished she had lighter skin. That changed over time and now she's considered one of the most glamorous women on the red carpet. She says she hopes other girls will learn from her experience and love the way they look. Keri Russell ranks second on the list. And there are three women linked to men who were named People's Sexiest Man Alive over the years. Jenna Dewan is married to Channing Tatum, Amber Heard is engaged to Johnny Depp and Stacy Kiebler used to date George Clooney, who was named Sexiest Man Alive twice. Others on the list include Kerry Washington, Pink and Mindy Kaling.
<<CUT ..022 (04/24/14)>> 00:29 ""
The Oscar-winning star of "12 Years A Slave" has been named People magazine's Most Beautiful person of 2014. AP Entertainment Editor Michael Weinfeld has more about the choice of Lupita Nyong'o. ((Lupita Nyong'o is pronounced loo-PEE'-tuh nee-YONG'-goh))
<<CUT ..023 (04/24/14)>> 00:14 "Man Alive twice"
AP Entertainment Editor Michael Weinfeld tells us that the list shows beauty attracts beauty.
<<CUT ..024 (04/24/14)>> 00:11 "the top ten"
AP Entertainment Editor Michael Weinfeld tells us who follows Lupita Nyong'o on the list of the Most Beautiful women. ((Lupita Nyong'o is prounounced loo-PEE'-tuh nee-YONG'-goh))
WINNER OF "THE VOICE," MEGAN HILTY AND JACKIE EVANCHO TO PERFORM AT DC MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Last year's winner of "The Voice," Danielle Bradbery will perform at the 25th anniversary National Memorial Day Concert in Washington next month. Megan Hilty and Jackie Evancho will sing. Johnny Carson's old bandleader, Doc Severinsen will perform. Dianne Wiest (weest) will be part of the show, too. Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise will host for the ninth year. The show airs on PBS May 25.
"HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH" - NEIL PATRICK HARRIS
NEW YORK (AP) -- The creator of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch' wanted Neil Patrick Harris to star in the show on Broadway so much, he agreed to wait until Harris was through with "How I Met Your Mother." John Cameron Mitchell says Harris is "the perfect Hedwig." Mitchell should know. He originated the role. He says Harris can expertly handle the dancing and singing and the comedy and emotional scenes. Hedwig opened this week.
<<CUT ..018 (04/24/14)>> 00:15 "cast somebody else"
Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris says he's lucky that they waited for him to finish "How I Met Your Mother" before casting "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
<<CUT ..019 (04/24/14)>> 00:13 "bantering with them"
Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris says he's able to react in character if someone in the audience shouts something to him.
<<CUT ..020 (04/24/14)>> 00:13 "I've done worse"
Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris says it's fun to improv if someone in the audience shouts something to him.
<<CUT ..021 (04/24/14)>> 00:14 "ruling a room"
John Cameron Mitchell
John Cameron Mitchell says Neil Patrick Harris was worth waiting for.
"BRICK MANSIONS" - RZA
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- One of Paul Walker's final films is out today. Walker plays an undercover cop trying to stop a gangster from launching a nuclear missile into the center of Detroit. The gangster is played by RZA (RIH'-zuh), who's acting more than rapping these days. RZA made his directing debut with "The Man With the Iron Fist" in 2012. He says he knew he'd done a good job when Russell Crowe told him he was "one of his favorite directors" and Quentin Tarantino told him "the student has now become the master." Brick Mansions opens tomorrow.
<<CUT ..016 (04/24/14)>> 00:14 "a new career"
RZA says his acting career was pre-destined.
<<CUT ..017 (04/24/14)>> 00:15 "become the master"
RZA says he knew he was a good director when he got compliments from Russell Crowe and Quentin Tarantino while directing "The Man With the Iron Fists."
"IT'S A SMALL WORLD" MOVIE
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- If "It's a Small World" gets stuck in your head after a ride that lasts only a few minutes, what will happen if you sit through an entire movie about the song? You might find out some day. Variety says a script is being written for a movie based on the ride and the song. Jon Turteltaub, who directed "The Lego Movie" will direct.
MATT BOMER REVEALS HE'S BEEN MARRIED FOR THREE YEARS
NEW YORK (AP) -- Matt Bomer knows how to keep a secret. Turns out he's been married for three years. Bomer tells Details magazine that he and his partner Simon Halls got married in 2011, a year before he came out publicly. They have three children, Kit, Walker and Henry. Bomer stars in the movie version of the play "The Normal Heart," about the rise of the AIDS crisis in New York. It premieres May 25 on HBO.
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