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Flint River Gallery

The Flint River Gallery is an exploration of the Flint River from its urban headwaters in a culvert at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta to its confluence with its sister river, the Chattahoochee, at Lake Seminole and onto Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Each of the primary habitats along the Flint, and the creatures who live there, are represented in individual exhibits in this area. This gallery features both freshwater and saltwater tanks to give you a first-hand look at life all along the river's path.

 

Tiger Salamander

Tiger Salamanders grow to a typical length of six to eight inches, and are even known to reach up to 14 inches in length. Their diet consists largely of small insects and worms, and occasionally they have been known to consume small frogs and mice. Adult Tiger Salamanders are rarely seen in the open and usually live in burrows that are around two feet from the surface. As adults they live almost entirely on land, and only return to water to breed. Although they spend most of their time on land, they are very good swimmers.  Tiger Salamanders are extremely loyal to their birthplace, and will travel long distances to reach it.

 
   

Spotted Turtle

The Spotted Turtle is small with gray to black skin and found in shallow, fresh-water areas in Southern Canada and the Eastern United States. They have broad, smooth, dark colored upper shells with yellow tiny round spots. Spotted Turtles can reach a length of 8 – 12 cm upon adulthood. They are active hunters seeking out prey in the water consuming aquatic vegetation, algae and animal food such as larvae, worms, tadpoles, etc.  The Spotted Turtle, although aquatic, can spend considerable time on land, basking on patches of grass near its body of water. Females travel on land to nest and lay eggs on sunny soil. Females have a yellow chin with orange eyes and a shorter tail; males have a tan chin, brown eyes and a long thick tail. Females grow slightly larger than the males and have more spots.

 
   

Alligator Snapping Turtle

The largest freshwater turtle in North America, the alligator snapping turtle is found primarily in the southeastern United States. Due to the exotic pet trade and habitat destruction, it is considered a threatened species. Alligator snapping turtles are believed to be capable of living up to 200 years in the wild but 80 to 120 is more likely. In captivity, they typically live 20 to 70 years.  The most distinguishing characteristic of this species is its worm-like tongue which it uses as a decoy to lure unsuspecting fish. When they come close, the turtle snaps its powerful jaws shut, securing its prey.

 
   

Spotted Gar

The Spotted Gar is a freshwater fish native to North America. They are usually found in clear shallow water in creeks, rivers and lakes. They have a profusion of dark spots on the body. They are long with an elongated mouth with many teeth used to eat other fish and crustaceans, as well as insect larvae and algae. They grow 2-3 feet in length and weigh 4-6 pounds on average.  Gars spawn in shallow water with lots of vegetation during April and May. The female is usually larger and live longer than the males. Females lay on an average of 13,000 eggs up to about 20,000 eggs. It usually takes 10 to 14 days for the eggs to hatch. The male's average lifespan is 8 years while the female's is 10 years with a maximum lifespan of 18 years.

 
   

Grass Carp

Grass Carp, also known as the white amur, is native to eastern Asia with a range from northern Vietnam to the Amur River on the Siberia-China border. It was introduced into Europe and the United States for aquatic weed control.  Grass Carp have long, chubby, torpedo-shaped bodies that are dark olive that shade to brownish-yellow, with a white belly and large, slightly outlined scales. It grows rapidly with adults reaching 4 feet in length and weighing 40 lbs. Grass Carp live an average of 5 to 9 years. They eat up to three times their own body weight daily in freshwater vegetation.

 
   

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass grow 4 to 6 inches during their first year, 8 to 12 inches in two years, 16 inches in three years. They are usually green with dark blotches that form a horizontal stripe along the middle of the fish on either side. The underside ranges in color from light green to almost white. They have a nearly divided dorsal fin with the anterior portion containing nine spines and the posterior portion containing 12 to 13 soft rays. Their upper jaw reaches far beyond the rear margin of the eye. Adult largemouth bass are the top predators in the aquatic ecosystem.

 
   

Blacktail Shiner

The Blacktail Shiner is a small silvery- white fish with a large black spot on its tail. It is commonly found in pools and runs of clear, sandy- bottomed, small to medium rivers. They can grow up to 152 mm.  Male shiners are territorial and will defend their chosen breeding spots from other males.

 
   

Shoal Bass

The Shoal Bass is a species of freshwater fish in the Sunfish family. Shoal Bass are generally olive green to nearly black along the back. Three diagonal black lines radiate along the side of the head and they have 10-15 vertical blotches that appear along the sides with tiger-stripes often appearing in between. The Shoal Bass has scales on the base portion of the soft-rayed dorsal fins and an upper jawbone that does not extend beyond the eyes. Due to the red color of the eyes, this bass is sometimes confused with the Redeye bass and the Suwannee bass. The Shoal Bass is closely associated with rock shoals and are uncommon in other habitats due to its unique spawning requirements.

 
   

Blackbanded Darter

Darters, the second largest family of North American fishes, are small perch-like fish found in fresh water. Black-banded darters are found in most freshwater streams in the south from Louisiana to South Carolina.  Darters tend to be nervous fish that frequent rocks and prefer flowing water to lakes.

 
   

Eastern Mud Turtle

This is an abundant and common turtle of the eastern half of the United States. This is a semi-aquatic freshwater turtle that prefers shallow soft-bottomed, heavily vegetated areas of ponds, rivers, lakes, bogs, roadside ditches, streams and salt marshes. Mud Turtles can grow up to 5 inches in length. They eat anything they can catch such as fish, worms, insects, grubs, crustaceans, tadpoles, berries, other aquatic plants and carrion.  The main cause of death for these animals is car strikes and habitat destruction. This turtle has a strong enough beak to crush small mollusks and shells of snails and crabs.

 
   

Loggerhead Musk Turtle

This small turtle is abundant in its native range of the southeastern United States and only gets to be 3-5 inches in length. Clean, freshwater, sandy bottom habitats are preferred by this turtle. But they can live in swamps, rivers, creeks, sinkhole ponds, and oxbows. This animal is mainly a carnivore consuming aquatic invertebrates, snails and clams.  Females will out grow the male. Both genders can live more than 20 years of age. Many turtles are injured or killed by boat strikes, baited fishermen's hooks and car strikes while trying to find nesting areas.

 
   

Eastern River Cooter

The River Cooter is a freshwater turtle native to the central and eastern United States. They are normally found in rivers with moderate currents, as well as lakes and tidal marshes. River Cooters enjoy basking on logs or sun warmed rocks. The term Cooter is believed to have come from an African word 'kuta' which means turtle in the Bambara and Malinke language.  The River Cooter is omnivorous and will eat practically anything; plant or animal, whether it is dead or alive. Their diet seems to be determined by the available food items. The River Cooter cannot swallow out of water. It will leave the water to retrieve a bug or worm and then return to the water to swallow. They are also known to enthusiastically chase, kill and eat small fish.

 
   

Chicken Turtle

The Chicken turtle is one of the most uncommon freshwater turtles. It is typically 4-6 inches, but can reach lengths of 10 inches. It lives in shallow ponds and lakes where it enjoys an omnivorous diet of crayfish, tadpoles and plants. Its range is strictly limited to the southeastern United States and as far west as Texas.  This turtle is easily identified by an extraordinarily long, striped neck with a yellow stripe on both the forelegs and rear legs. It has a distinguishable netlike pattern (looks like a chicken wire pattern) on its shell. The meat of this turtle was once favored in southern markets.

 
   

Yellow Bellied Slider

Yellow Bellied Sliders are land and water turtles. It can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including slow-moving rivers, floodplain swamps, marshes, seasonal wetlands, and permanent ponds. The yellow bellied sliders are popular as pets. Males can reach up to 5-9 inches while the female can reach 8-13 inches. It feeds mainly in the morning and frequently basks on shore, on logs, or while floating, during the rest of the day. At night, it sleeps lying on the bottom or resting on the surface near brush piles, but in all cases it prefers to stay in the water. In the wild its life span is 30 years, but in captivity its life span can reach 40 years.

 
   

Barbours Map Turtle

The Barbour's map turtle is a very interesting species of turtle that is found in the Flint River area. They are called map turtles due to the map-like markings on their faces and legs.  Female Barbour's map turtles grow from 7 to 12 inches in length; male Barbour's map turtles are smaller, growing from 3 ½ to 5 inches in length. The males and juveniles have black spine-shaped projections on the tops of their backs, giving them a saw back appearance. These spines wear down with age, giving older females a smoother look.  The Barbour's map turtle is found in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. They occur in the Flint, Chattahoochee, and Apalachicola River system. They prefer streams and rivers with logs, deadfall, and numerous mollusks for them to eat.

 
   

American Alligator

Native to the Southeastern U.S., the American Alligator is an apex predator, consuming fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Adult males average 11 feet and 500 pounds while smaller females average 8.5 feet and 200 pounds. The largest reported alligator, measuring 19 feet 2 inches, was a male killed in 1890 on Marsh Island, Louisiana. Alligators can live up to 50 years.  When courting, both sexes make a low-frequency bellowing sound. Eggs are laid in a nest of vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. The American Alligator is the official state reptile of three states: Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

 
   

American Eel

These shy nocturnal creatures, which often hide in the gravel at the bottom of the tank, can grow up to 40 inches in length. Native to the rivers, streams and estuaries in Eastern and Central U. S., they feed on dead fish and carrion, insects and invertebrates.  When eels reach reach sexual maturity, they swim from their freshwater homes to the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean to breed and lay their eggs. Female hatchlings will migrate back to the same swamps as their mothers, a journey which may take up to two years. Males remain at sea.

 
   

Greater Siren

The Greater Siren is the largest of the sirens, often exceeding 3 feet. Their bodies are long like an eel. They have external gills as well as lungs, so they can breathe underwater or at the surface. The color of the Greater Sirens is olive green to black with a light belly. Young sirens have a light stripe on their sides, which is lost over time. They lack hind limbs and have relatively weak fore limbs that are not used in swimming or crawling. Their tail is laterally flattened and appears to have a fin around the edge. The Greater Siren ranges from Virginia south along the Atlantic Coast through Florida and into the gulf coast of Alabama. They spend most of their time buried in mud or sand. Captive sirens have lived to be 25 years of age.

 
   

Sunfish

Sunfish are small; usually around five to eleven inches, spiny-finned game fish belonging to the same family as the largemouth and smallmouth bass. Sunfish are popular game fish. They are laterally flat, but dorsoventrally round. These are colorful and interesting little fish and are fun to catch, especially for beginning fisherman.  Sunfish have sharp spines on their pelvic fins, dorsal fins, and anal fins, so be careful when handling them!

 
   

Channel Catfish

The Channel catfish typically grows to 5 to 10 pounds but can reach a weight of 58 pounds. These fish are native to North America where they live in lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. They feed on small crustaceans, fish, clams and snails. They also will feed on aquatic insects and small mammals.  The Channel catfish is North America's most populous catfish species and is highly fished for its meat. It is most active in the evening. These fish have a very strong sense of smell and taste. They have odor-sensing organs on their nostrils, taste buds located all over their bodies and four pairs of barbels that allow for stronger taste buds.

 
   

Florida Softshell Turtle

The Florida Softshell Turtle is native to the southeastern United States, found primarily in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. It is the largest soft shell turtle in North America and it is one of the fastest turtles to move on land and in the water. They prefer water to land and can be seen in ponds, streams, rivers, lakes and swamps.  The Florida Softshell Turtle has a leathery carapace (shell) that is usually dark brown to olive green with a white or cream colored underside. They can grow to be quite large, ranging from 6 to 30 inches in length and can weigh up to 45 pounds. In captivity, the Florida Softshell Turtle has been known to live up to 30 years; in the wild their lifespan is shorter.

 
   

Gopher Tortoise

The Gopher Tortoise is native to the southeastern United States. It is a major contributor to the environment because the burrows it digs for itself also provide shelter for 360 other animal species. Habitat destruction is threatening the Gopher Tortoise's existence.  The Gopher Tortoise is a large terrestrial turtle with features that are common to most tortoises: the front legs have scales to protect it while digging, its front feet are well adapted for burrowing, and its hind feet are elephantine. The carapace of a Gopher Tortoise can range from 8 to 12 inches long and its body mass can weigh from 4.5 lbs to 13 lbs.

 
   

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is a member of the venomous pit viper species and is found in the southeastern United States from southeastern North Carolina south to the Florida Keys; then west along the Gulf Coast through southern Alabama and Mississippi to southeastern Louisiana.  The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is recognizable by its brownish, brownish-yellow, brownish gray or olive ground color which is overlaid with approximately 35 dark brown to black diamond shapes. The diamonds are outlined with cream or yellowish scales. Its belly is yellowish or cream colored. Its head has a stripe that extends from behind the eyes backwards and down to the tip and touches the mouth.

 
   

Toadfish

Common names are Gulf toadfish, Dog fish, and Mud fish. The Gulf toadfish can be found in the western Atlantic Ocean, from Florida east to the Bahamas, southeast through the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan peninsula. In these places, the toadfish can live 820 feet below in sea grass beds or in sandy and rock rubble bottoms located in shallow coastal areas. The gulf toadfish reaches a maximum length of 12.8 inches. Mature males reach a larger size than females. They feed on small fish. Barracudas are known for feeding on the Gulf toadfish. Dolphins have been known to feed on them as well.

 
   

Sailfin Molly

The Sailfin Molly inhabits fresh, brackish, and coastal waters from North Carolina to Texas and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The natural lifespan of Sailfin mollies is short, particularly in the case of the males, which may live less than a year after achieving sexual maturity. Sailfin mollies are small fish and range from 0.5 to 3 inches; the size of adult males is directly correlated with population density. Sailfin mollies feed primarily upon algae and other plant materials, although they will consume a number of aquatic invertebrates.

 
   

Diamondback Terrapin

The Diamondback Terrapin inhabits the brackish waters of coastal swamps of eastern and southern United States stretching from the Florida Keys to Cape Cod.  The Diamondback Terrapin got its name from the distinctive diamond pattern on its carapace (shell). The carapace coloring varies from shades of brown to gray. The body color can be gray, brown, yellow or white. All Diamondback Terrapins have a unique pattern of black markings or spots on their body and head. And they have large webbed feet that facilitate their strong swimming ability.

 
   

Gulf Killifish

Found on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Veracruz, Mexico. The gulf killifish can tolerate low oxygen and variable salinity ranging from fresh water to salt concentrations several times that of seawater. They also have high tolerance for temperature variability. They feed primarily on crustaceans and other smaller fish species.  These fish are used as bait on the gulf coast of Texas year-round as well as along the northern gulf coast from New Orleans, LA to Pensacola, FL.

 
   

Blue Tang

The Blue Tang, a surgeonfish, is commonly found in the Tropical Atlantic Ocean. It can grow up to 16 inches long. Its colors change during growth, starting as a yellow juvenile and then becoming a yellow tailed blue sub-adult before entering the final blue adult phase.  The adult fish caudal spine is sharp and is only out when the fish experiences excitement of some form. These fins can cut very deep into human skin and have been known to result in infections, mainly swelling and discoloration. Some species are even thought to possess poison glands on their caudal spines.

 
   

Grey Angelfish

The beautiful Gray Angel is a striking fish, despite its more subdued adult coloration. These large Angels are a delight to both divers and aquarists. The adult Gray Angelfish, which may also be referred to as the Gray Black Angelfish, has a gray body with dusky blue polka-dots and the same dusky blue highlights on the caudal, dorsal, and anal fins. The face is a clear, pale silvery-gray. The juvenile is black with yellow stripes. The Gray Angelfish is hardy, and can reach a length of 20 inches as an adult. They are found from the eastern coast of the United States down through Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, including populations in the West Indies.

 
   

Squirrel Fish

The Squirrel Fish is primarily a nocturnal predator, hiding in crevasses during the day. They eat small fishes and crustaceans. Squirrel Fish are heavily armored with sharp scales. The are found in the Western Atlantic, from North Carolina to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the West Indies and Caribbean shores. It can also be found in the Eastern Atlantic.

 
   

Yellow Stingray

Yellow stingrays grow to be no more than 36 centimeters. They are a bottom dwelling species. Yellow stingrays can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and in the waters of Florida, North Carolina, Bahamas, and Trinidad. They inhabit sandy, muddy, or sea grass bottoms in shallow waters. The yellow stingray feeds on small invertebrates and bony fishes.  Yellow stingrays pay little heed to divers and can be approached closely. If stepped on or otherwise provoked, however, this ray will defend itself with its tail spine, coated in potent venom.

 
   

Spadefish

The Spadefish is a marine fish found in the western Atlantic Ocean, commonly found in shallow waters off the coast. They have a very deep, compressed, disk-shaped body and a blunt snout with an angelfish-like appearance. They are usually silver with irregular black vertical bands that fade gradually with age. They commonly weigh 3 to 10 pounds and grow up to 36 inches in length.  The Spadefish is a popular targeted game fish due to its abundance and its strong fight. They are commonly caught by using small pieces of clam and a small circle hook.

 
   

Pork Fish

The Pork fish is a species of fish that occurs in the tropical western Atlantic. They are characterized by two vertical black bars on the head and horizontal yellow stripes on the body. The Porkfish is a member of a family of fish called grunts, so named because of the grunting sound they make when removed from the water. Porkfish live on reefs and areas of rocky bottom. They usually feed at night and eat a variety of foods including crustaceans, segmented worms, and mollusks. The Porkfish can grow to about 1 foot in length and are considered a sport fish.

 
   

Pompano

Pompano can grow to be 45 centimeters. They can weigh up to 1.5 kilograms. They like to stay away from clear water regions. They usually survive to live up to 3-4 years. Pompano are bottom feeders. They have very short teeth and prefer feeding on small clams and other invertebrates such as crabs and shrimp.  Juveniles are found primarily along sandy beaches exposed to wave action. Adult Florida pompano generally occur in rapidly swimming schools of various sizes.

 
   

French Angelfish

The French Angelfish is found in temperate waters in the western Atlantic from Florida and the Bahamas to Brazil, as well as the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. They are most commonly seen in pairs in shallow reefs near sea fans.  The body of the adult Angelfish is black, but the scales are rimmed in golden yellow. Also, the pectoral fins have a broad orange-yellow bar while the dorsal filament is yellow. With a white chin, yellow iris and blue-rimmed eyes, the Angelfish is very colorful.  Angelfish eat mainly sponges which are plentiful in the areas where they live.

 
   

Spanish Hogfish

The Spanish Hogfish is a species usually found in South Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda and Brazil. Their size ranges from 20cm to 35cm up to 60cm. They inhabit reefs, where they constantly swim in search of food.

 
   

Southern Toad

The Southern Toad is native to the southeastern United States where sandy soil is found. They are usually brown but can be red, gray or black. They are a medium sized toad, growing to approximately 3 inches. They usually sleep during the day and emerge around twilight to hunt for insects. They eat any insect alive that fits in their mouth.

 
   

Green Tree Frog

These beautiful frogs have become a very popular pet species in recent years. They are grass-green colored, usually with a creamy colored line running from the jaw along the flanks. Green tree frogs can be housed in a large, unheated aquarium, out of direct sunlight. You may also want to get them a fluorescent tube light for localized heat which they will like to hang out on for hours. They will eat the usual insect diet: crickets, moths, flies, etc. Males make a really loud noise that's a bit like quacking, which is sometimes known as a "rain call" because they tend to make a lot of noise after warm rains, but which can also be stimulated by external noises.

 
   

Longsnout Seahorse

These seashorses can be found attached to coral reefs and sea grasses by their prehensile tails in their habitat. They eat passing animals small enough for them to suck up in their snouts.  The males of this species carry the eggs in a brood pouch in its body until the eggs hatch. There is extreme commercial pressure to harvest this animal. This, coupled with habitat loss, are major threats to this species.

 
   

Skillet Fish

The Skillet Fish enjoys wide distribution in tidal waters n the East Coast from the mid-Atlantic States to Florida. The Skillet Fish is a small fish, and not much research has been done on the species.  The Skillet Fish is nearly always closely associated with empty oyster shells, which provide the main spawning location. Skillet Fish have also been captured in eelgrass flats in company with sticklebacks and other fish.