Although this week is dedicated to Zoo Keepers, we couldn’t help but give a shout out to our aquarists as well. These folks have gone above and beyond the call of duty to open the Carolina SciQuarium on time and have continued to succeed by providing outstanding care to our aquatic animals through weeks of record-breaking attendance.
The Role of Our Aquarists
Senior Aquarist, Sarah, outlined a typical day in the SciQuarium. Each day begins with some general maintenance performed before visitors arrive. The aquarists start by checking each tank to make sure all of the animals are healthy. To ensure their continued health and safety, they follow this visual scan by checking each pump and making sure all life support systems are operating normally. Then, the cleaning begins. Each morning, our aquarists are responsible for removing leftover food, feces and algae from the tanks. This not only keeps the animals’ environments healthy, but it also gives visitors the best possible viewing experience.
Then comes breakfast… for the animals, of course. The aquarists feed each animal and monitor how much they are eating to make sure their appetites are the same. From there, they take water samples from each tank and perform water quality testing. Once they are sure water is at the optimal levels for each exhibit, it’s time to don wetsuits and get ready for the morning dive. Around 11:00am (keep in mind the schedule is always subject to change), visitors can watch divers clean and maintain the Shark Reef exhibit.
In the afternoon, much of the aquarists’ time is typically spent working on projects, such as building, cleaning and fixing systems. Their day ends much as it began. They feed animals and make sure appetites are still strong, check life support systems, make sure pumps are working properly and check each tank to ensure all animals are healthy and thriving.
Sarah has been an aquarist for about 6 years and came to us from Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. Her favorite thing about working in the Carolina SciQuarium is working with the animals, particularly the spotted eagle ray. She enjoys the fact that aquarists in the SciQuarium have the chance to do everything! At many other aquariums, she says aquarists’ work is specialized to focus on certain animals or exhibits, but in the SciQuarium they have the opportunity to work with all of the animals, exhibits and systems.
Ironically, Sarah’s least favorite part of her job is getting wet. She’s also not a fan of smelling like fish all the time, but we can’t blame her for that! If she could choose one animal to feature in the SciQuarium that isn’t currently there, Sarah would choose a coconut crab. She said would name him pina colada and walk him on a leash.