Thursday, December 31, 2015
2016 will mark my 18th year volunteering at the Aquarium of the Pacific. When I get nostalgic and think of the animals I worked with that first year at the aquarium in 1998 and still hang around with today I think of critters like Brook and Charlie the sea otters and Ellie and Shelby the harbor seals. I also think of a few critters that may surprise you like Fern the Zebra Shark and Theo the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle.
During the first couple of years that the Aquarium of the Pacific was open to the public the staff was well trained but leaner that it is today. Thus marine mammal volunteers like myself not only cared for the pinnipeds and otters but also lent a hand to the aquarist staff. We would help feed sharks, handle sea turtles for husbandry procedures, prepare diets for various marine critters and also clean protein skimmers and exhibit windows. Anything that needed to be accomplished was done with whoever was available at the time, like marine mammal volunteers between training sessions.
Thus in the early days of the Aquarium I had hand fed Fern when she was just a little shark. I also not only prepared the sea turtles diet but also fed and handled them for husbandry procedures. I used to pick up and hold Theo the sea turtle for medical procedures back when one person could still lift him by themselves. Today each is a lot larger. Fern is part of the shark animal encounter program where guests can be in the water with her. Theo usually can be found in the Tropical Pacific exhibit by the viewing tunnel where guest can get a good look at him up close.
Check out the recent pictures of Fern and Theo and compare them with the shots from 1998. My how that shark and sea turtle have grown!
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