At 9:30 on Tuesday morning, I arrive to open up the Discovery Center, where I work until 1:30pm. There, I educate visitors about marine animals and tell them about our patients using the live video feed into our hospital. At 11am, I run the Little Flippers program, reading books to and doing crafts with children ages 3-8 to teach them the importance of caring for our oceans.
After my lunch break, I go into the hospital at 2pm to start my afternoon shift, which runs until 8pm. First, I make fish gruel, which consists of blended fish, vitamins, Pedialyte, fish oil, and milk matrix. We feed this to our seals when they are too young or too sick to eat whole fish on their own. Once I’ve made enough to get through the rest of the day, I start fish school with our seals to get them interested in chasing and biting at fish, developing the instincts they will eventually need to hunt once they are released.
At 3pm, I do the mid-afternoon feeds for the animals and record these feeds in their paper charts. Later in the afternoon, I will transfer this information to their online Google charts.
Since it is Tuesday, I also run weekly water quality testing on our two big tanks, as well as our isolation pool. I test the levels of ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite in these pools to ensure the conditions are safe for our animals. In addition, I run coliform tests on each of these pools so we know that our animals are swimming in clean water!
At 6pm, I start fish school and food preparation for the 7pm seal feed. I feed the seals and wash and disinfect the dishes.
Before I go home, I make sure all the animals are safely in their enclosures with clean water, turn off the lights, and lock the doors. I will be back tomorrow to do it all again!
Posted by Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth is a Summer, 2017 Animal Care and Education Intern at the National Marine Life Center. She is going into her senior year at Bowdoin College, where she is a biology major.