Meet the Staff
The Director of the Aquarium oversees all aspects of the facility; including interpretation of the exhibits, ticket sales, as well as financial performance and analysis of aquarium operations. This person will also oversee our talented animal care staff, husbandry procedures and collection planning. The Director also coordinates all marketing activities, group sales, private event functions and direct the education programs within the aquarium and our community and manage a staff of over 80 dedicated employees.
The General Curator plans, coordinates, and evaluates the entire living collection of animals at the aquarium. It is important for this individual to monitor treatment protocols, animal care guidelines, display conditions, and animal husbandry standards. The General Curator also develops policies, strategies and tactics for the maintenance of the health of the marine collection. The General Curator supervises the Curators, Aquarists, Divers, and Life Support Staff.
A curator is a manager that is responsible for a collection of animals and
exhibits and supervises a staff of aquarists that take care of them.
Do you like animals? Maybe a career as an aquarist is right for you. Aquarists are the 'hands-on' people! Because there are so many different animals in aquariums, aquarists must know a lot about animal diets, animal behaviors, their habitats, and even animal medicine. Aquarists must have good observational skills so they can tell when an animal may not be feeling well. While these jobs are very rewarding and often fun, there is a lot of hard work to do. Aquarists have to keep the animal habitats clean and healthy. It's a dirty job, but a very important one. Aquarists are responsible for feeding all of the animals, and even diving with some of them! Remember, as an aquarist, the animals depend on you for everything!
You might enjoy aquariums, but not really want to work hands-on with the animals. Do you enjoy fixing things? Do you like computers? The life support staff is responsible for all of the filters, heaters, air conditioners, and other equipment that is important to keep a healthy habitat for the animals. If something breaks down, these people fix it! Because we are in the middle of a desert, we have to make our own saltwater, which is another responsibility of these individuals. Although you may never see life support staff on a visit to an aquarium, they are working hard behind-the-scenes to ensure that the animals are in clean and healthy habitats.
Do you like to teach people? Is it fun to tell people amazing things they may not know? Then you might enjoy working in an aquarium as an educator. Educators are responsible for telling school groups information about all of the animals they are looking at. Educators give tours to school children, adults, they write educational books, design informational signs, and answer any questions that people may have about the animals at the aquarium. Sometimes they may be speaking in front of hundreds of people or doing goofy activities for small groups. Excellent public speaking skills are required!
Believe it or not, there is still a lot of information about animals that we don't know. That is why there are people in aquariums who are researchers. They study animal behaviors, animal diets, sleeping patterns, and just about anything else. Many species of animals are endangered, which means there are not many of that species left out in the wild. The information that researchers learn in aquariums can help ensure that endangered animals can survive in their natural habitats.
Food Prep Aquarist
Feeding time is always an exciting time at the aquarium. With over 2000 animals at Shark Reef Aquarium, a lot of food needs to be prepared. There is one individual, the Food Prep Aquarist, responsible for all of the food preparation for all of our animals. The Food Prep Aquarist weighs the food and follows a strict scheduled diet for the animals, to make sure our animals are just the right weight - not too thin and not too heavy. This person spends most of the day in the kitchen, chopping up broccoli, lettuce, carrots, squid, herring, mackerel, and many other food items. Have you ever smelled frozen fish? By the end of the day, this person sure doesn't smell too good, even though it is one of the most important jobs in the aquarium!!!
Shark Reef Aquarium has a dive staff that 'goes deep' daily. Since our animals can't clean up after themselves, our divers go in and do it for them. They are sort of the housekeepers for the exhibits! They dive in every exhibit, maintaining the cleanliness and observing the animals for health related issues.
Shark Reef Aquarium has 14 exhibits, as well as a Husbandry Center where our new animals are quarantined. The responsibility of the lab technician is to test the water quality in each of these exhibits daily. The water is tested for pH, nitrate, nitrite, temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen to make sure the water is within required parameters.
Guest Experience Supervisors and Managers
To ensure a smooth guest experience the visitor side of the facility is overseen by the Operations Supervisors and Manager. This group is responsible for the ticket sales and interpretation of the exhibits and training and developing the staff. They also have a passion for animals but are not "hands on". They focus on informing our guests about the fascinating creatures of the aquarium.
Naturalists are located throughout the aquarium, interpreting the exhibits to the visitors. These individuals have excellent communication abilities and are skilled in guest services. They are well trained in animal information, and are available to answer any guest questions. If they are dive certified, they may also have the opportunity to dive in many of our aquariums.
Ticket clerks are the very first faces of Shark Reef Aquarium! They sell tickets to the aquarium and answer any initial questions people may have about the exhibits inside. These individuals are experts in guest service and have excellent communication skills.
Maintaining the health of our animals is very important. Just like when your dog or cat gets sick, you take it to the vet for a check-up. Sharks are more difficult to transport to a clinic, so we have veterinarians who visit Shark Reef Aquarium once a week for routine check-ups, and more often if necessary.
So...you want to work in an aquarium?
The most important thing to do if you are interested in a career in a zoo and aquarium is to stay in school. Read many books about animals. As you get older and go on to high school and college, take classes in biology, zoology, chemistry, psychology, and education.
It is also a good idea to try and do some volunteer work as well. Contact a local zoo, aquarium, museum, or even government offices like the National Park Service or the Department of Wildlife to find out what is available. Volunteer work can help you find out if working in a zoo or aquarium is right for you, and it looks great on a resume too.
Working in a zoo and aquarium can be a lot of hard work. However, if you enjoy being around animals, the jobs can be very rewarding and a lot of fun!