The Deep employs a team of committed Aquarists to care for the 5000 plus animals housed within the aquarium. From sharks and stingrays, penguins and turtles to jellyfish and bugs they have their work cut out for them, providing the crucial care they need to thrive.
A skilled and varied role, the life of an Aquarist encompasses many skills. On top of keeping all the exhibits clean, they commit their days to water analysis, food culturing and preparation, pump and filtration maintenance, record keeping and not to forget diving – which many describe, unsurprisingly, as the best part of the job! Any additional time is dedicated to designing and building new exhibits, research, breeding and conservation work.
A typical day for an aquarist requires them to be a biologist, chemist, diver, cleaner, dietician and an animal behaviourist whist being able to apply a variety of skills in plumbing and carpentry – with a dash of creative flare!
To ensure that the wellbeing of our animals is also maintained at its highest level, our Aquarist devise methods of enrichment to ensure that they are able to display a full range of natural behaviours for feeding, breeding and as in the case of our penguins, moulting.
- Target Training – we use target training on many sharks, stingrays and turtles when feeding. This training is continually reinforced to promote both a natural feeding response and to ensure the safety of our divers when in the water – this is particularly important with our Sawfish. By feeding them from above with a pole, we allow them to use their rostrum to swipe at their food, stunning them before feeding.
- Lighting – by mimicking natural lighting cycles – dawn, day, dusk and night – along with lunar cycles, we are able to provide the essential triggers for penguin moulting, coral spawning and courtship behaviours.
- Enrichment – this is anything that enhances the wellbeing of an individual or group of animals. Correct exhibit theming, temperature fluctuations and feeding methods all contribute to ensure the health of a species, with the exhibition of natural behaviours and breeding cues all signalling that the animals are comfortable within their environment.
The Deep also employs a specialist vet to oversee the care of our animals. On call 24 hours per day, and with the support of a local veterinary practise, he is on hand to undertake regular health checks and assessments as required.
Our vet has specialist knowledge and experience of providing care for a wide range of creatures, from sharks and stingrays, from fish to frogs and even our creepy crawlies.