Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Being a volunteer at the Aquarium of the Pacific is like owning about 12,500 of some of the world’s most glorious and exotic pets!
Even though working as an Exhibit Interpreter and Day Captain for the Education Department can be exhausting, it is a most enjoyable way to tire out; the hours fly by because the pace often is quite hectic.
As day captain, a job I perform every other month, I create Tuesday volunteer schedules, usually on Mondays.
When I am an exhibit interpreter, I work at a station for 30 minutes at a time and then rush off to staff another spot, trading with fellow volunteers.
During each half-hour period, I explain facts about our animals and some of their interesting behaviors and/or adaptations, regularly telling guests why we ask them to use only two fingers when they touch our animals: nearly everyone has a tendency, though unintentional, of poking with one finger and grabbing with more than two.
When doing gallery interpreting, I really have fun talking to our visitors about some of my favorite animals, too many to list them all.
“Did you know that he used to be a she?” always elicits amazed looks from people, most of whom have never heard of such a thing. These fish include the beautiful California sheephead and the Napoleon wrasse.
Another amazing concept for most – myself included, for that matter—involves our Catch a Wave exhibit. Ocean water doesn’t actually move; instead, it’s only the wave’s energy that moves. You’ll have to come to visit us so I can show you our wave machine, where you can observe this for yourself!
Also loads of fun is the laughter I get when I tell people about fish like the sarcastic fringehead and the Garibaldi (our California State marine fish) and their territorial habits. Guests really get a kick out of learning that these relatively small fish will even try to chase divers away from their homes when they swim too near.
Every day at the Aquarium of the Pacific is filled with great co-workers (volunteers and paid staff) and animal-loving visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Besides our animals, I most enjoy the children, their questions and the way they answer mine when I ask them about things they know – or think they know. I find myself smiling, if not giggling, at their entertaining responses and am always amazed at the extensive knowledge of some.
I also enjoy meeting people visiting from Italy because I get to speak to them in their language, in which I am fluent; while I was born in the United States, I have spoken Italian since childhood.
So, have I convinced any of you animal lovers to volunteer with us? I guarantee you’ll enjoy it!
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