April 3, 2020
Commitment during a Critical Time – Part Two
- as seen by -William Hana
I hear over the radio that there is a feeding at the oyster exhibit with algae from our algae culture set up. I have to see this. Senior keeper Connor Gibbons and keeper Cora Monroe bring two large buckets with generous amounts of fresh live algae and methodically pour them into the habitat. A cloud of green water plumes over the oyster beds. Tiny crabs are moving in and out of oyster cages onto the sandy substrate. Some oysters open up to filter feed while some bury themselves further into the sand. Sarah Davidson, our water quality staffer, walks by with a meter in her hand, places a probe into the exhibit water, and takes precise readings to ensure things are running smoothly. Our staff seems happy about the success of their algae cultures they have worked to establish.
After checking the new aquarium exhibits — Spineless and PlayQuarium — that will open as soon as the aquarium re-opens its doors, I find myself back on the plaza. Senior keeper Stephanie Mitchell and keeper Caitlin Bartlett are feeding the African penguins. With the towering Ocean Wonders: Sharks! in the background casting its reflection on the clear water in front of them, the keepers hand out fish after fish to all of the penguins coming for the feast (above). They know each bird individually and record how much each one has been fed. All of this occurs under the watchful supervision of two local seagulls.
Our staff are concentrating on their tasks. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Sean Williams, our park service employee, wiping down door handles and going over surfaces with sanitizer.
Annie Fedora from our restaurant staff is cooking meals for those who reported to work. With restaurants closed and very few places to get carry out, these teams come through offering freshly cooked meals for us.
With all that is happening around us, the aquarium staff continue to find themselves surrounded by colleagues who share the same passion and dedication to our animal collections and to each other. Everyone pitches in to help and provide support during a most difficult time.
EDITOR’S NOTE: WCS animal and operations staff are essential during this time. We thank them for their continuing efforts. Be sure to read Part One of Commitment during a Critical Time.