Monday, November 8, 2010

Night Duty

Hi Sea Fans!

I hope you all had a great weekend.  I had a really relaxing weekend after having worked last weekend.  Yes, aquarists have to work on weekends sometimes, it's not a 9 to 5 weekday job.  Our animals are watched 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so that means that there is always someone at the aquarium! 

Once, when I was on the night shift from early evening (around 5) till early morning (6am), I got to many people are awake at this time?  How many people are trying to keep their eyes open at 2 in the morning so that nothing goes wrong?  It's funny, whenever I see a security guard, I really feel for them.  It's not a nice job having to stay awake when everyone else is in bed at night AND when you're just walking around checking on things and sitting still for most of the time, it can't be that nice.  Ever since I did night shift at the aquarium, I've had a renewed respect for all the people doing the "graveyard shift".  As aquarists, we're lucky because we have amazing animals to watch all night, but factory workers, security guards, airport staff and anyone else who has to work in the wee hours of the morning...they don't have such beauty to look at.  So next time you see a security guard, give them a smile and know that they're looking out for you whilst you're tucked away in bed dreaming.

Speaking of night shift, I must tell you, the animals are quite amazing at night.  If you have an aquarium nearby where you can go for a sleepover, do it!  It's well worth it and you'll see a different side to the aquarium.  One of the things I really enjoy during night shift is watching the nocturnal predators become more active.  Yes, the sharks liven up at night! 

(Photo: M de Maine)

It's also really special watching the reef fish, like parrotfish, getting ready for "bed".  As you saw in a previous blog, parrotfish make a mucous bubble around their bodies, like a sleeping bag.  The mucous bubble prevents predators from picking up on their scent whilst they sleep.

The seals are quite funny when they sleep, some of them make funny grunting and snoring noises...a little bit like my dad! : )  Whenever I do my rounds and I have to check on the dolphins, I don't need to switch the lights on (I also don't want to disturb them), I can listen out for their breathing and watch for their blowholes in the dim light.  Did you know that dolphins sleep by "switching off" half of their brain at a time?  So half of their brain gets to rest while the other half stays alert...they need to constantly keep a check on their breathing. 
(Photo: Kyrion)
I've even been lucky enough to watch our resident loggerhead turtle pull herself up onto the beach at night to lay her eggs and one of the other aquarists was very lucky, he got to watch an anemone spawn - now wouldn't that be an event to witness!!

Anemone spawning (Photo: M Henley)

So if you get the chance to dive at night or be in an aquarium, go for it, you'll be surprised at how much goes on in the sea when it gets dark!

Have a great week Sea Fans!
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