This Week I am Thankful For...

This is a guest post from Senior Aquarium Educator Lisbeth Bornhofft. She recently traveled to our new Animal Care Center in Quincy to get a lay of the land, learning about the facility and its patients so she can teach her fellow educators back on Central Wharf. Read about Lisbeth in the Cool Jobs section of the Fall 2010 issue of blue member magazine.

As an Education liaison to the Rescue & Rehabilitation department, I had the opportunity to visit with our colleagues at the Quincy facility. My mission: keep our volunteers back at the mother ship in touch with Rescue & Rehab activities, especially now that they are separated from our Central Wharf campus.

I was greeted at the door by our illustrious staff painter and general Aquarium cheerleader, Dave Comerford. He's been working on finishing the specialized floors needed in such a wet and highly trafficked space "They let anyone in here!" he quipped. Actually, that's not true. This facility is not open to the public. I showed him my ID badge and he reluctantly let me in.

I was immediately astounded by the sheer size and high-tech feel of our new facility. You could fit several of the planet's biggest animals, blue whales, in here—well, that would never happen, but maybe you can imagine how big such a structure would have to be. (See Adam's post for more photos of the facility.)

Upon arrival in the rescue/rehab area, I found Adam Kennedy and volunteer Maury administering "turtle Gatorade," (which I would prefer to call "turtleade"), to some recent arrivals.

I was struck by the calm efficiency with which staff and volunteers carry out their duties. This has always been the case with these highly capable people, but as Connie Merigo pointed out when she found me, their job is a whole lot easier now. Not only do they have plenty of well-organized space, but the various essential areas are adjacent, instead of spread out over several buildings and floors. No longer do they have to carry turtles through public spaces and answer a barrage of questions, like, "Where are the bathrooms?" Don't get me wrong—they never minded answering questions, but now they are saving a significant amount of time that can be spent caring for our endangered guests.

The turtles are shuffled on a regular basis from their holding pools to the exam room and back again.

Out at the holding pools, I found 31 Kemps ridley sea turtles and four green sea turtles thriving in their temperature-controlled tanks. The turtles are "cold stunned" when they arrive, so staff members must raise the temperature just a few degrees each day to the secure the turtles' road to health. It was feeding time, so staff and volunteers were engaged in the patient game of temping turtles with herring and squid.

Feeding time!

Yum, herring.

Mmmm, squid.

You can almost hear the turtle chomping in this video!

But sometimes they're not that interested in eating. Here's another short clip of feeding time with the turtles. As you can see, feeding requires a lot of patience.

Connie's tour of the facility included a viewing of several well-known staff members who spend some time in Quincy. Veterinarian Charlie Innis was working wicked hard (I can say that because I'm from Massachusetts) at his computer, but I'm sure he was thinking, "I can't wait to try out our cool new wet table." He'll be able to carry out medical procedures on fish with this equipment! Katie Kodzis sometimes takes a break from her work in the Aquarium Medical Center to "run bloods" for rescued turtles in this space. According to Connie she's a blood analyst extraordinaire. (If I were from London, I might say she's a "bloody genius"!)

Dr. Innis at work.

You may not have met the newest member of Rescue/Rehab, biologist Kurt Hood. He looked like he was settling in quite well!

I couldn't help but linger by a pool with eight Kemp's ridleys who had just arrived that morning. I'm thankful this week for a lot of things, but I'm especially thankful to Connie and her staff for welcoming me during a time of heightened activity, and I'm extraordinarily thankful for these little guys who, with the help of NEAq, will get to spend more time on the Blue Planet!

Happy Thanksgiving!

- Lisbeth

1 comment:

  1. What lucky turtles! Amazing pictures and video links.