Steve provides a photo tour of their April, 2011 trip to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Update July 17, 2013 – For a behind-the-scenes look out, check out this post from a more recent trip Steve and his wife took to Tennessee Aquarium.
Last April, my wife and I stopped in Chattanooga for our first visit to the Tennessee Aquarium. We came away very impressed with everything they offer. Not only does it have stuff for the whole family, they have a wide variety of Chelonians on exhibit making it a great place for a turtle-centric trip. In addition to the animals on exhibit – which you’ll see below in pictures – they have an Asian turtle breeding program going in in their behind-the-scenes habitats to aid in the survival of many species.
In fact, one could make a completely turtle-centric trip and stop at the Knoxville and Nashville Zoos while already in Tennessee. While I have not been to either location myself, I hear they also have fantastic chelonian collections.
A visit to the Tennessee Aquarium can easily be an all morning or all day event. With two buildings and a River Gorge cruise to enjoy the scenery and wildlife on the Tennessee River (which runs right by Tennessee Aquarium), there is plenty to do to make the day worthwhile.
In our experience, this is the best Chelonian collection we’ve experienced in an aquarium or zoo. Not everything they have is on exhibit, nor did every turtle on exhibit cooperate for photographs, yet we were still able to photograph 27 species of turtle and tortoise. Sit back and enjoy the ride through Tennessee Aquarium’s Chelonian exhibits.
Chelonia mydas (Green Sea Turtle)
Macrochelys temminickii (Alligator Snapping Turtle)
A 1.2 group
This next group of species is all from one, large, beautifully natural exhibit:
Graptemys barbouri (Barbour’s Map Turtle)
Pseudemys concinna concinna (Eastern River Cooter) and Pseudemys nelsoni (Florida Red-Belly Cooter)
Chrysemys dorsalis (Southern Painted Turtle)
Deirochelys reticularia chrysea (Florida Chicken Turtle)
This guy was a star; outgoing and very curious. He photographed very well.
Geoemyda spengleri (Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle)
Podocnemis erythrocephela (Red-Headed Amazon River Turtle)
There were also some Podocnemis expansa in this exhibit, but they stayed hidden in the shadows toward the back of the exhibit.
Mauremys nigricans (Red-Necked Pond Turtle) and Mauremys japonica (Japanese Pond Turtle)
Carettochelys insculpta (Fly River Turtle)
Chelodina longicollis (Eastern Australian Snakeneck Turtle) and Macrochelodina expansa (Giant Snakeneck Turtle)
Geochelone elegans (Indian Star Tortoise)
Geoclemys hamiltonii (Indian Spotted Pond Turtle)
These guys did not want their picture taken. If you look closely, you can see some of their spots.
Homopus signatus (Speckled Cape Tortoise)
One of the world’s smallest tortoise species. This is an adult!
Assorted Cuora (Asian Box Turtles)
Chelus fimbriatus (Mata Mata)
Emydoidea blandingii (Blanding’s Turtle)
Sternotherus carinatus (Razorback Musk Turtle)
Clemmys guttata (Spotted Turtle)
Sacalia quadriocellata (Four-Eyed Turtle)
Heosemys spinosa (Spiny Turtle)
Graptemys flavimaculata (Yellow-Blotched Map Turtle)
Malaclemys terrapin ssp. (Diamondback Terrapin)
Another turtle that wouldn’t cooperate – but we did get a butt shot!
Graptemys pearlensis (Pearl River Map Turtle)
This young pair was the hit of the trip for me. They were especially active and quite entertaining. I think we watched them and photographed them for nearly an hour.
To see the best of our journey through the aquarium in order: Full Gallery
*All photos taken by Steve and his wife.