Visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies!
by Rachelle Siegrist
We had a great time at the beautiful Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies located in nearby Gatlinburg one day this past week! It was our dear friend Fred’s 81st birthday and we thought it a great way to celebrate! Upon entering the aquarium, you are first met by a large tank filled with Piranha, and we arrived in time to watch them be fed! The chubby fish with pinkish bellies and sides that look like they’ve been sprinkled with glitter, chomped away at the pieces of shrimp, until it was all gone in no time!
They then fed the Electric Eel next to the Piranhas, so we got to watch him eat as well, which is always a treat for me! Offering the shrimp with a special holder so as not to get shocked, they gently tap it on the side and a volt meter registers the current it discharges each time, displaying it on a graph and sounding it aloud! Walking along the gently sloping floor we came to the Dart Frogs and Iguanas next. Then came the Flounders, and with both eyes on the same side and being flat as a pancake, they’re always so much fun to watch!
A Cuttlefish and a Flounder, both so very cute!
Several more aquariums line the curving walls before you reach the shark tunnel, which is obviously one of the best parts! Standing on the slow moving floor, you feel as if you’re actually in the water with these amazing sharks as they slowly and gracefully pass overhead, sometimes looking as if they’re headed straight for you! Of course the music playing, which sounds like something straight out of the classic JAWS movie, adds to the excitement and thrill of it all!
The large resident Sawfish is amazing to see and he sports the most interesting mouth, which looks more like a pair of oversized pink lips!
The Pacific Sea Nettles are another favorite of mine, and I’m instantly mesmerized by their graceful, slow movements, appearing like sea ballerinas, preforming recitals in super slow motion, as they gently pulse while effortlessly gliding through the water. Watching fish and other aquatic life seemingly weightless, swim about has to be one of the most relaxing past times there is! So sit back and relax while enjoying this short video by clicking on the photo below. (Many thanks to Kit for his video clips used in making this!)
After relaxingly watching numerous other gorgeous, brightly colored fish swim about, we saw the Stonefish and Lionfish, each very beautiful in their own ways as well.
Stonefish and Lionfish
Of course time spent watching penguins is always great fun, and so it was this time whilst watching the antics of the adorable African Penguins, as they zipped back and forth through the water at lightning speeds! One penguin in particular named Riley, was extremely friendly, and seemed to enjoy hanging out with our group. Happily, he even photo bombed our photo, thus making it even better!
Riley and another one of his adorable buddies
Kit even decided to crawl through a tunnel to get a really up close and personal view of them from inside their enclosure.
After saying goodbye to our new penguin friends, we headed over to Stingray Bay, where you can gently pet the various rays as they “fly” by. I couldn’t decide which I was enjoying more, feeling the amazingly soft topside of the rays as they passed by or the delightfully warm water! Having been told by aquarium staff to quickly remove our hands when the small sharks swim by, a boy standing near us jerked out and nearly ripped off his own arm, when he realized at the last second that a shark was quickly approaching his submerged hand, sending us all into a state of laughter! We also enjoyed seeing the Pearl Harbor Exhibit currently on display there, and I must admit that the various gorgeous fish in the exhibit really caught my eye! Especially the Rectangular Triggerfish, who looks like a watercolor painting in motion!
Time had passed much too quickly and it was time to leave, It had been a most delightful afternoon and if you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit to the Ripley’s aquarium! Later that evening, we all celebrated Fred’s birthday with his very own special “carrot cake” which was diet friendly, and of course there was brownies to go with it!
~ Fresh off the Easels ~
I finished another commission this past week of President Trump which is part of the Presidential Portrait Miniatures Collection of the Woolaroc Museum in Bartlesville, OK. Visit our portraits page for more info on this amazing collection of miniature portrait paintings. We are truly honored to be part of continuing this rare and prestigious collection of portrait miniatures of the United States Presidents!
Wes finished his miniature landscape painting featuring another splendid river scene from nearby us in the Smoky Mountains! He also finished a commission of a Puffin which I’ll be sharing with you soon!
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Until next time . . .