Assisting with the work up of a 300 lb roughtail stingray! We were giving the stingray a basic check-up, and I was allowed to restrain the stingrays tail (it was huge). During the procedure, they trimmed his barb, and they let me keep it! It is one of my most incredible memories.
After those measurements were complete, I would go out to the viewing windows and perform a basic welfare check on the animals. I look for any abnormal behaviors during a welfare check and check the quality of the habitat. After that, I proceeded with any necessary cleanings, siphoning, water changes, or filter backwashes.
Im incredibly fortunate to have gained hands-on animal experience through FFA before my first internship. Since I would be traveling across the country for my internship, I made it clear that I wanted to make the most of this experience and work as many hours as possible. That and arranging my schedule to fit theirs showed the National Aquarium how dedicated I was. During my interview, I did my best to connect with the interviewer to come across as someone they would enjoy working with.
Are you interested in having a future as an aquarist intern? If this is why you are here, you are on the right page. Panoramic Ocean is so psyched to announce the second interview with Ms. Hailey Binkley.
On Panoramic Ocean, Im excited to host a SECOND Q+A with Ms. Hailey Binkley. You, our amazing readers, felt so inspired by her original Q+A that we decided to bring her back to dive further into her experiences in the conservation field. She is a past Aquarist Intern at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, with a resume like none other.
Cleaning coolers. It can be tedious and time-consuming. But it’s one of those things that has to get done, so you do it anyway. I also have to work on Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes it’s hard to spend time with friends and family because our schedules are so different. But again, working weekends is just part of the job; that’s when the zoo is the busiest!
Mid-morning is when we do maintenance dives. Sometimes I remain above water as a safety monitor and sometimes I dive. I put on my SCUBA gear and use scrubbers to clean the rocks and walls of the exhibit. Each day a different exhibit gets cleaned. Then I help with feeds in the South Pacific Aquarium. This sometimes includes talking to the public about what I’m doing. After a feed, I wash the food buckets and dishes. I also write down notes about how the feed went and if I saw any abnormal behaviors. Then I eat lunch.
A lot of people think fish are boring or don’t have personalities. They are actually fascinating and do have personalities! The invertebrates like anemones and sea stars are also really interesting. There is a lot we don’t know about the ocean, so I’m constantly learning new things. Aquarists spend a lot of time caring for their animals’ habitat. The glass is cleaned every day and the water temperature and chemistry are monitored constantly. The life support system takes care of filtering the water, but we need to know how it works in case something goes wrong.
Often the hardest part is completing everything on our list! When things happen unexpectedly, such as an animal medical emergency, it can disrupt the entire day and add stress. It is also really tough when animals pass away. I love all the fish I work with and it is sad to lose them.
I arrive at 6:30 am and begin preparing diets for the Lagoon, Blue Hole, and Stingrays. If it is a shark feed day I also help with those diets. I have to measure and chop many different food items so it’s ready to go. Then I help clean certain exhibits. Every day the stingray touch pool must be siphoned. This means the gravel and debris are churned around in a column of moving water to loosen and carry off any debris trapped in the gravel.