Birds, Mammals, Sharks and Rays: NEAq Galleries

During the heart of my time at the Aquarium, I spent one day each in some very distinct galleries. I first worked with the Penguins Department, responsible for the husbandry of the Rockhopper, African, and Little Blue penguins. In this gallery, I helped feed the birds after preparing their breakfast and lunch of silversides and herring. To my surprise some of the birds ate over twenty fish in one feeding session! I also helped maintain the cleanliness of the exhibit. The penguins are far from ‘potty-trained’ — thus lots of cleaning is necessary to maintain their exhibit. It was fun being immersed in the cold water and climbing on the penguins’ rocks. I also came to learn how each penguin truly has his or her own personality. Some are aggressive and demand a respect for their personal space, other are social and curious, and still other are very shy.

After my work with the penguins, I spent a day in the West Wing — the department responsible for the Shark and Ray Touch Tank, the Jellyfish exhibits, as well as the animals located in the Blue Planet Action Center, used primarily for educational presentations. During my time in the West Wing, I worked with former colleagues and friends Eric Payne and Austin Brayton, with whom I previously volunteered. It was great to see them again, and they were great supervisors for the day. I had lots of fun getting inside the touch tank for target feedings of the two zebra bullhead sharks and working with some of the new animals behind the scenes, like the pacman frog.
The last husbandry gallery in which I worked was the Marine Mammals Department. I spent some time working with both the harbor seals exhibit on the Aquarium’s plaza and the fur seals & sea lions exhibit in Marine Mammal Center. Much like the time I spent in the other galleries, I helped prep food in the morning and assisted with feedings and training exercises throughout the day. It was really interesting to see how the trainers go about interacting with these creatures, and how intelligent these animals are. My favorite part of the day was receiving a kiss from Reggae, one of the harbor seals.