Aquarist: Career Profile

5 minutes

Welcome to Career Connections at the Aquarium of the Pacific. I'm Alie, and I'm joined by Angelina today. Hi, Angelina. Hi, everyone. Angelina is an aquarist at the Aquarium of the Pacific. How long have you been here? For about five years. And before that, you were volunteering. I was a volunteer. Angelina has experience to help us understand about taking care of the animals here at the aquarium. How would you describe being an aquarist?

(Angelina) An aquarist takes care of fish and invertebrates. We do so much. We wear so many hats. We are plumbers, we are engineers, we are biologists, we're chemists, we're scuba divers, we're animal healthcare specialists. We do a little of everything. You do that for fish and invertebrates, those animals without spines. I know aquarists get assigned to collections of exhibits. Who are you taking care of? I have seven exhibits under my care in the Northern Gallery, so nice and cold water. You get in that cold water. I go scuba diving in that freezing water. I do have one tropical exhibit, but in the Northern Gallery, I take care of our giant Pacific octopus and our Northern Culture system. Is anything different between taking care of animals in a warm water, tropical environment versus a cold water, northern environment?

(Angelina) One big difference is the fish and their metabolism. In a tropical exhibit, we feed animals every day. They have very fast metabolisms in warm water, whereas in the cold water exhibits, they eat three times a week. That's normal for them.

(Alie) I could not do that. So you take care of something called Northern Culture. You have to tell me what that is. Anytime fish in our exhibits lay eggs or have babies, I raise those babies up, so I am a fish mom, fish nanny. Let's go check out some of Angelina's exhibits. Here we are by my exhibit, my only warm water, tropical exhibit, the Gulf of California. It looks beautiful. I love it. Brightly colored tropical fish, lots of opportunity for guests to see them in their natural habitat. What do you need to do to decide what it looks like? All the exhibits under our care look like natural environments, what it looks like in the ocean. We want guests to experience little mini habitats as they walk through the aquariums. Here, they experience a nice tropical reef in the Gulf of California. Is there a fancy word for that, mini habitats? We call it aquascaping. We can design our exhibits different ways. In colder water exhibits, we add live kelp. This one has artificial corals found naturally in that area. That's a unique challenge, figuring out the right place to put everything. Are there any other exhibits that provide unique challenges? Oh, definitely. That would be my favorite exhibit, the giant Pacific octopus. It's not aquascaping that is the challenge with her, but providing enrichment for her. That is fun and challenging. When you say enrichment, do you mean putting new things in the exhibit? It could be anything from changing around, redecorating. We give her clams that she has to figure out how to open. We give her jars with food, and she has to open it. I saw a Mr. Potato Head in there. We have that. You may see weird things like toy boats, pumpkins, footballs. Being able to challenge her also challenges me. Thanks for joining us as we visited Angelina's favorite exhibits and learned more about being an aquarist. See us again for more Career Connections.

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Meet Angelina, an aquarist at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Angelina discusses what it’s like to take care of a diversity of fish and invertebrates, including a behind-the-scenes look at her favorite animal, the giant Pacific octopus. Part of the "Aquarist" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 5 minutes

Aquarist
Episode 1
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Aquarist
Episode 2
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Aquarist
Episode 3
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12