This week we are meeting Aquarist Rich.
Rich has been a part of the North Carolina Aquarium family for over 14 years. After graduating with a degree in Marine Sciences from Coastal Carolina University, he started in Education at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. He spent two years as a Special Activities Instructor and Educator before moving to Wilmington to join the team at Fort Fisher. While working as an educator, he also volunteered in the Husbandry Department. Rich decided Husbandry was a better fit for him because he enjoyed the more technical side of things. Twelve years later, Rich is now in charge of a variety of important parts of the Husbandry Department. He cares for two different exhibits that involve turtles: Buzzard Bay and Box Turtles. He inventories the walk in freezer to make sure our animals get enough to eat. He makes the salt water we use in the Aquarium. You can learn how Rich makes salt in this video:
I asked Rich how he became the person in charge of making all of the salt water for the Aquarium.
“When I applied for the full time job, I told them I would do all of the dirty jobs no one else wants if they would hire me,” he said.
It seems like it worked very well for him. It’s a great piece of advice for students who think they want to work with animals. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty to work in this field. Rich also suggests staying in school to get an advanced degree, like a Masters, so you can move up in this field. His favorite part about working at the Aquarium the diversity of work.
“There is outside work and you are always doing something new. There is no desk involved.”
This variety is also the most difficult part of the job for Rich. “It is difficult to keep all of the things you have to do organized.”
There are a lot of perks to the job, though. Rich loves working at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher because of the location and the work he gets to do. His favorite animal to work with is the Goliath Grouper in the Blockade Runner exhibit. Rich is also part of our new Bald Eagle team and goes on collecting trips for new animals. We are lucky to have him as part of our staff.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Rich and the work he does at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. When you visit the Aquarium, you’ll see our loggerhead hatchlings swimming in the salt water Rich helped make.
The turtles are growing quickly and are spending lots of time resting on the bottom of their exhibit. This week Turtle A is 16.7 cm long and weighs 689 grams. Turtle B is 17.1 cm long and weighs 779 grams. For more information on what to do with those numbers, please check out our lesson: Hatchling to Yearling.