My first two days at the National Aquarium were exciting and full of diving and getting involved with Aquarium operations. My first morning, Holly took me into the Atlantic Coral Reef (ACR) exhibit for a checkout dive. We practiced basic skills including buoyancy, mask removal, weight removal, and BCD removal. After this, I explored the exhibit and helped Holly investigate the behavior of a queen triggerfish, as the staff were considering temporarily removing the animal from the exhibit. Later in the afternoon, I went back into the ACR accompanied by the day’s volunteer group. This time, I cleaned up an area of the tank which contained empty clam and oyster shells. These shells are typically used by animals such as sand tilefish to make burrows, but since they were not being used they were to be removed. I removed roughly 15 pounds of the shells from the exhibit! During that same dive, I checked on the queen triggerfish again, and spent some time taking photos!
On the morning of my second day at National, I snorkeled in the ACR to take measurements for the installation of new skimmer boxes. This was an interesting project to be a part of, and getting in the water is always fun. I continued to get involved with aquarium projects later in the day when I completed my third ACR dive. In addition to taking personal photos on this dive, I was tasked with capturing images and footage of a black durgon for the veterinary staff. It was rewarding to capture footage of the fish that the vets would later use to aid their decision-making process regarding to how to manage this fish. By this dive, I felt very comfortable in ACR and was able to navigate its tight swim-throughs and alleys with greater ease.