Because most of the things we do on a daily basis is routine, I'll skip those and just keep you updated on the different or interesting things from here on. In no particular order, here is week 7 through 12.
I was given responsibility of an exhibit tank (the mangrove tank for those of you who know the zoo). This was a way for me to maintain an exhibit without the other aquarists doing it for me (although I did need some tips which were good to know). It was a good way to put into practice my knowledge on filters/skimmers and the such. I'm in charge of my water changes and interior design as well. I added a pajama cardinal fish from fish holding to the tank that already had: sheepshead minnows, mono, several puffers, butterflies, goatfish, and a clownfish. However, this tank has been through 'ich' several times in the past years. Cryptocaryon irritans is a parasite that appears as a small powder-white dot on the sides/tail/fins of the fish. Stressed or sick fish are very susceptible. Well, 'twitchy' (that's what I named him since he twitches) got Ich. Becky and I did a scrape (where we scrape the skin of the fish with a slide cover and then view it under the microscope) and I got to see it. This was actually one of the best moments! It felt like being in school again, except very hands on. So we moved twitchy to a quarantine tank in fish holding for a copper treatment to get rid of his ich. The other fish in the tank still look fine, so I'm beginning to assume that they are resistant to a certain degree.
Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but we also have a Minnesota Lake display on the Minnesota Trail. It's a collection of freshwater fish found in Minnesota. One day, after feeding them, I came back with a good news/bad news scenario. Good news? The sauger was getting his fair share of food. The Bad news? One of the crappies was sticking out of his mouth. And so I got to explain to the many huddled adults and children around the glass that it... sometimes happens.
In week 10, I made my first appearance in the Coral Reef Dive Show. I had done four cleaning dives before that moment and felt a bit unprepared. (I had less cleaning dives the first two months of my internship because the algae in the tank does not grow as fast in the winter) My introduction was a bit short and my mask was a bit leaky, but overall, it wasn't a disaster. Becky got on the microphone so I felt more comfortable that way. All the gel diet kind of ended up in a giant pile at the bottom, but the talking part came easy for me.
After that, I've been pretty good. Diving three or four times a week. So if you're stopping in the cities, I have a awesome dive show you shouldn't miss. :) It just gives me more opportunities to spread shark conservation to the world.
I did get in for a cleaning dive last week and cleaned the glass, while all the visitors watched and waved at me. I brought my camera along this time in it's underwater housing for some digital camera underwater test shots. I took some video too. It may take another dive to get all the adjustment bugs worked out, but I did get a few great shots.
Mark and I also got to net up one of the leopard sharks in the estuary for a vet procedure. (I get so excited for vet work and disease work) The shark has a white shot on her back that we wanted to take a look at. So far we haven't heard anything back. The spot doesn't look better, but it doesn't look much worse either.
Speaking of vet procedures, the darkest (#2
) female southern stingray was caught up into the holding pool because of her fluid-filled back end. We got a better ultrasound on her and it turns out to be a fluid-filled cyst. The vets took another sample of it, this time it came out milky white, and we discovered a half-dollar sized sore on her underside. The vets decided to drain the fluid and you all know how excited I would have been.... but they did that on my day off when I was forced to go north for a doctors appointment. But I talked with the aquarists about it when I got back and apparently they withdrew 6 liters of fluid!! O.o We now have her on meds so hopefully that will help.
For those of you who visit the Minnesota Zoo annually but haven't lately, you'll need to know there is a dwarf croc exhibit being but up in the tropics trail. Aquariums is currently housing the varied cichlid species for the tank when it goes up in April or May. We have several hundred in fish holding to add some movement and color to the tank. The fish are really starting to color up and look great. Dan and I cleaned the filters on those two large fiberglass tanks last week and I wish I'd wore rubber boots. As you pull the filters out (after we turn them off) I was splatted with what can only be described as 'cichlid poo'. Those pants needed extra attention that night...
Also in the process of cleaning the three Minnesota Trail exhibits we have for fish and herps, Doug found a tiger salamander in the pipes. Poor little guy probably had not eaten in several weeks. We now have him in shark holding and I'm pleased to say he's been eating pieces of earthworm every morning and looks stronger every day. He'll soon be on his.. or her way to full recovery.
In other good news, the three cobia we added a few weeks back are braving the front window. They have ventured out from the back of the shark reef tank and are now front and center during the fish and shark feedings. They look really cool and we hope they grow fast. They don't look too much bigger, but now that they're eating more, we'll see.
I only have a month left, but more exciting zoo stuff is on the way. Until our next update,