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Aquarium hosts conservation event

Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Kathlina Alford with adult SA Brook Trout

Kathlina Alford, TNACI Conservation Associate, holds one of the adult Southern Appalachian Brook Trout collected for a new restoration project.

Chattanooga, Tenn. – Southern Appalachian Brook Trout, SABT, are one of the most beautiful fish in the Southeast.Their slender bodies feature bright gold markings above their fiery-red bellies. These striking fish are the only trout species native to this region and are prized by anglers who enjoy the challenge of locating these colorful animals.

“Unfortunately, Southern Appalachian Brook Trout are found in less than three percent of their historic range in Tennessee and North Carolina,” said Dr. Anna George, director of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, TNACI. “We have a lot of interesting field conservation projects in 2013, but we’re really excited about restoring Brook Trout.” 

Like the efforts to restore Lake Sturgeon and Barrens Topminnows, TNACI scientists collected adults to produce offspring in human care that will be returned later to bolster native populations.

“This year we housed 50 adults for nearly five months at TNACI,” said George. “Now we have more than 300 baby brook trout that we’ll release later this year.”

An adult Southern Appalachian Brook Trout.

An adult Southern Appalachian Brook Trout.

This new project is yet another example of the multiplier effect of collaborative work among conservation agencies. TNACI is working closely with National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service and to restore Brook Trout, the “Kings of the Mountains.” 

The Tennessee Aquarium is holding a special event on Friday, March 22nd from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm to celebrate World Water Day. Scientists from TNACI, the Aquarium and partner agencies will greet visitors and showcase a variety of field conservation projects ranging from colorful Darters and Topminnows to river giants like Lake Sturgeon. 

Kids will enjoy a night of activities, animal presentations and games designed to fit the theme of World Water Day which captures the cooperative spirit of bringing scientists, governments and the community together to foster a better understanding of managing freshwater resources. Youngsters will receive a special passport which will be stamped by biologists stationed at various exhibits within the Tennessee Aquarium’s River Journey building.

A baby Southern Appalachian Brook Trout seen with yolk sac shortly after hatching.

A baby Southern Appalachian Brook Trout seen with yolk sac shortly after hatching.

“Who says science isn’t fun?” said George. “Field conservation scientists sometimes hike, snorkel, kayak, SCUBA dive and occasionally rappel into caves to protect the region’s natural resources. This event will be a great opportunity to talk with a lot of experts in one place.” 

The Aquarium’s “Wows & Hows” World Water Day event is presented by Tennessee American Water and Volkswagen Chattanooga. The event is free for Tennessee Aquarium members. Adult non-member admission is $15.00; child non-member $10.00. 

Guest will meet experts from the following partner organizations:

Conservation Fisheries Inc.

Tennessee Aquarium

Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute

Tennessee Tech University

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

University of Georgia

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

U.S. Geological Survey