Monday, August 15, 2011

End of an Era

So, Sunday was my last day at the aquarium for at least a year.  I know that it will always be there and I would be welcome back in a heartbeat, but I cannot help to feel upset.
For the last 2 years or so, the aquarium has been my weekly excitement that has kept me guessing what would happen that week (much like a good sitcom). Yet, as I left on Friday, I couldn't help but be sad.
The next year I will be away on three seas then, if I do decide to actively pursue vet school, I will have to spend my free time at a vet office and not playing with my favorite sea creatures (since only 1 school offers a marine vet program). I want to say I could do both, and maybe I can, but going into senior year with 4 lab classes a semester, this seems unlikely.
But, even though I am extremely sad, I do not want to make this a sad post. Instead, I want to highlight the last 2 years and the amazing times I have had.
Starting out in the freshwater gallery with Scott gave me my first year. During this time, I swam with catfish larger than myself, snorkled with anacondas, went on herring collecting trips, and assisted in an anaconda giving birth. This gallery truly allowed me to learn the basics of the marine world. Every day I was there, I learned more than I could possibly imagine and it solidified my desire to preserve the marine world.
Newborn anaconda
After a year of freshwater, I went to the other side of the building to work in Cold marine with bill. This gallery (although absolutely bitter in the winter), was a more advanced gallery that presented some more challenging creatures. Don't get me wrong, anacondas and electric eels are not docile but the animals in cold marine were more feisty, maybe it was the colder water. Here, I was exposed to a large increase in responsibility. My first 3 months, Bill was gone and I was in charge of the gallery every Sunday. This included learning to pick up lobsters with my bare hands, being the primary caretaker of red belly cooters (care and scientific measurement), working with some of the most opinionated fish I have ever seen, and, of course, taking care of the giant pacific octopus (Athena). While I was in this gallery for 10 months, I quickly learned the personalities of these creatures and their care. Freshwater and cold marine are completely different ecosystems and the creatures reflect this. It's nice to go scuba diving now and be able to identify what I see.
Me and Athena
Cold Marine also had me doing odd jobs in the temperate and tropical galleries. In temperate I was given the extreme honor of working with leafy and weedy sea dragons while in tropical I was exposed to my beloved coral.
Than, this past month, I have been working in the tropical gallery. This work solidified my knowledge of the tropical world and helped prepare me for three seas.
I also, outside of the galleries, was able to shadow a stingray neutering surgery. This was the first of its kind and allowed me to see what a marine vet actually does. I want in!

Looking back, although I gave a very basic over view, has produced some of my fondest memories and changed who I am immensely. I hope to be back in a year and, if I am otherwise pulled away, thank you New England Aquarium.

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