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SEASIDE AQUARIUM

FEED THE SEALS





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Behind the Scenes: Aquarium Maintenance

Taking care of the animals at the aquarium is a very glamorous job. When they are not cutting squid or fish to feed the animals, our aquarists are cleaning tanks, hosing down the runway of the seal tank, or performing one of the hundreds of duties necessary to keep the aquarium running. They spend their days cold, wet, and smelling of fish and they do it with a smile. Our aquarium is more than 70 years old and was built on an old salt-water swimming pool, so it is very low-tech and has a lot of quirks. We joke that the aquarium is kept running with PVC pipes, duct tape, and bungee cords. Add Rubbermaid tubs and garden hoses to the list, and itís not far from the truth. Low-tech has its advantages. If something breaks, our aquarists often fix it themselves. Our General Manager, Keith Chandler says, "The whole place was designed to run on gravity and common sense, two things that donít usually fail when the power goes out." Below are some photos of our regular maintenance.

Tank cleaning has many parts. Old debris including leftover food and waste must be scooped out (photo, left) then the tank is siphoned (photo, middle) and the glass is cleaned from the inside (photo, right). Siphoning is similar to vacuuming; water and debris are sucked out of the tank through a thin tube (if it were too big, it would suck out the fish, too!). Siphoning takes a long time because the siphon is small and the aquarist wants to avoid disturbing the fish. The tanks are changed seasonally and drained and pressure-washed once a year.



Tanks in back hold animals that are not ready for display, either because they are new or because they need a little extra care. Here, staff carefully shift one of the larger holding tanks.

Moving an octopus is a tricky proposition that takes finesse. Imagine eight legs with 240 suction cups each, all trying to hold on. We use nets and garbage cans to shift octopi when we move them.

Thereís always something unusual to add to the mix. In this photo, staff are moving a shark that washed up on the beach to a larger tank.

Gravel in old cement wine vats filters the water we pump from the ocean before the water goes into the tanks. Here aquarist, Jason, cleans one of the two filters. He uses a hose to spray away all of the collected debris.

Our water intake pipe needs regular maintenance. The height of the pipe is adjusted seasonally as sand shifts, barnacles are regularly removed, and the line is flushed regularly so it does not clog.



 

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Seaside Aquarium, 200 North Prom, Seaside, Oregon 97138 Tel: (503) 738-6211.