Woods Hole Science Aquarium Project



Animal Husbandry and Public Education in NOAA’s Woods Hole Science Aquarium


Project Description:

The Woods Hole Science Aquarium is the nation’s oldest public aquarium, located in the small but busy marine science village of Woods Hole  (http://aquarium.nefsc.noaa.gov/ ). The aquarium displays approximately 100 species of fish and invertebrates and two non-releasable harbor seals. The aquarium is currently rehabilitating three Kemp’s ridley turtles for release in August. The aquarium hosts 80,000 visitors per year and offers collecting walks, narrated seal feedings, and various high school intern programs. The student will work with two WHSA  biologists taking care of the aquarium animals. The student will also work with the WHSA Curator on public education programs, serving as a naturalist on collecting walks for the public, helping plan and maintain exhibits, keeping daily records, and serving as program assistant for the summer high school internship program (described here: http://aquarium.nefsc.noaa.gov/pdfs/intern-program-description-2015.pdf). In addition to helping with animal husbandry and educational programming, the student will conduct a research project in an area of his or her interest, to be developed with the guidance of the aquarium biologists and/or curator. The project could be a study in animal health, animal husbandry, resource management, or public education.

This is a ten week position scheduled for June 1 through August 7, with some flexibility on starting and ending dates possible.

Duties and Responsibilities

The animal husbandry portion will include preparing food and feeding animals, cleaning tanks, and assisting with maintaining the exhibits and public areas, as well as some interpretive tasks working with visitors. The education portion involves meeting with visitors and serving as an interpreter / educator while carrying out typical job responsibilities. The student will be trained to serve as a naturalist on shoreside collecting trips with the public. The student will serve as a senior intern during the six week high school intern program, helping to train the high school interns in the care and maintenance of marine animals and helping the interns with special projects. The student will assist the curator with administrative and organization tasks such as setting up seminars and field trips.


Guidance and Supervision

The primary mentor is WHSA Curator George Liles (MFA, MEd). Other mentors are Kristy Owen (MS), WHSA Biologist, and Dr. Ambrose Jearld, supervisory Marine Scientist and Director of Academic Programs for NMFS Northeast Region. Intern will work closely with the professional staff, having access to decision making and program planning deliberations. Intern will initially be supervised closely and trained in WHSA husbandry and education protocols. Once trained, the intern will have the opportunity to work independently – the WHSA has many interns, students, and volunteers and the aquarium ids dedicated to provide talented students with the opportunity to learn about and to exercise professional skills.