CHATTANOOGA, TENN. — Seahorses are pretty amazing animals to observe. They have bulging, independently moving eyes, armor-plated bodies and monkey-like tails. Their rather bizarre appearances match the unusual measures taken to care for seahorses, sea dragons and pipefish. “The seahorses are actually one of our most labor intensive exhibits,” says Aquarist Sigourney Bain. “They are very delicate animals and their tanks require vigilant cleaning and vacuuming since seahorses are so sensitive to changes in their environment.”
A seahorse keeper’s day is filled with multiple feedings, tank maintenance like scrubbing and changing out water and moving any new babies to a back-up nursery area.
Across the Aquarium plaza in the Ocean Journey building, two coconut crabs are members of the largest land living invertebrate species in the world. They can grow up to three feet in leg span and can weigh up to 40 pounds!
Aquarist Pete Larson is in charge of working with them and admits that caring for these crabs is more about maintaining the right habitat than constant care.
“You have to make sure that their environment stays moist and that they have access to both fresh and salt water,” says Larson. “The fresh water provides hydration and they actually like to bathe in the salt water. They are also fed twice a week using a diet of fruits and vegetables with occasional proteins such as shrimp, trout chow or clams.”
Both seahorses and coconut crabs star in this year’s Keeper Kids schedule developed by Aquarium educators and husbandry staff. During spring break families will have special opportunities to explore “keepers only” areas while meeting rare turtles, baby sharks, birds and more.
A daily menu of 16 programs will be offered FREE with Aquarium admission. Kids, ages six and up, may choose two of the activities which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each experience lasts approximately 15 minutes.