Behind the Scenes: Aquarium Maintenance
Regular maintenance including feeding the animals, cleaning the tanks, making minor repairs, adjusting the ocean
line, and dealing with the leaks, breakdowns, and surprises that come with a 70 year old system is a full time
commitment undertaken daily. Unfortunately, that is not all the maintenance the Aquarium needs. Some projects,
like replacing broken pumps, must be addressed immediately. There are others we try to save for the slow winter
months. There are many projects that we just canít do while the aquarium is open on a daily basis. They are either
too wet, too messy, or require taking large numbers of animals off display. Once a winter, we close the aquarium
for a week and shift into high gear to complete a variety of tasks.
This winter we replaced a number of cracked tank windows. To do this, we first removed the
animals from the tanks (photo top left), then we drained the tanks and siphoned out the remaining
debris (photo, center left). Tanks were then pressure washed (photo center right. The aquarist
wears full rain gear to keep from getting drenched) and scrubbed (photo above, right). In each
tank, aquarists had to decide whether to scrub the tank entirely clean, or to preserve the tiny
anemones that came through the system as plankton
and have settled in and started to grow on all
Next, Kiwi Glass, a local glass company, removed
the cracked glass and replaced it with new tank
windows. To resist pressure from such large tanks
of water, the glass has to be an INCH thick!
Getting the glass fitted, and sealed so it does not
leak is a tricky proposition. Once the windows
were replaced, the tanks were filled with water
and left for 24-48 hours so the water could clean thev
system. Finally animals were returned to the tanks.
While the tanks inside the
Aquarium were being
cleaned and tank glass
replaced, staff in the gift
shop dismantled the displays
and dusted and cleaned
Another seasonal task is the
decoration of the gray
whale skeleton. This is done
for Halloween and Christmas.
Here the gray whale (as the
Grinch who stole Christmas)
is visited by Santa.
There are a lot of painted surfaces in
the Aquarium! Walls, benches, and
touch tanks all receive high traffic and
need new coats of paint regularly. It
is difficult for the paint to dry overnight
(especially in the seal tank area),
so we took advantage of the closure.
The closure also gave us
a chance to work on
other projects in high
traffic areas. Here,
Cannon Beach Electric
replaces the light fixtures
in the seal tank area.