The New Year knows how to start with a bang! Between rushing to stranding calls and sorting out public query phone calls, we've really been kept busy this last month. On top of all that, my favourite large exhibit got a parasite infection - headaches deluxe!
Fish, including those in the wild, carry parasites. It's just like with humans, we have bugs inside us, but they stay in check unless we get stressed in some way and then they take over. Well, that's what happened in one of our large exhibits. We had a temperature spike a little while ago and true as Bob, that stress caused an outbreak of parasites. They were only on the stingrays though so we knew that they were host specific (they only sit on certain animals). The lab guys got samples of the parasites, had a look at them under the microscope and soon enough, we knew how to treat them.
|An aquarist checking out a parasite under the microscope.|
Treatment meant that each stingray had to get a certain amount of medication every day, which seems easy enough, but it's not so easy when they get used to the taste and know what you're up to! They're just like those of us who don't like brussel sprouts - you can try to cover the little green things up with all sorts of other things, but that taste will still be there and we'll know they're there! Stingrays are clever that way, you can't fool them. We eventually had to put their medication (in powder form) inside capsules so that we could tuck each pill into a smelly (but fresh) piece of sardine and that would trick them into taking their medication.
|Putting the powder medication into the capsules.|
The treatment worked well and our stingrays are looking healthy and are MUCH hungrier again.
That's what I love about this job, you have to be able to do a whole range of jobs - cleaner, feeder, doctor, trainer and a whole lot more. It keeps you on your toes, but it's great fun when your job isn't the same thing every day!
Here's hoping that some of you want to do what I do one day.
Have a great weekend Sea Fans!