Monday, May 23, 2011

Otter say aaaaaah!

Hi Sea Fans!

It's so funny, our trainer was in hysterics telling us a story about the otters this morning so I thought I just have to share...

We've been wanting to do a dental check on the otters for a while, but they just didn't want to let us near their mouths while awake so we realised the best way forward is to train the otters to say "Aaaah!" like we do.  (Okay, not quite say it but at least open their mouths for us when we ask them to).  It was a bit of a battle.  The trainer spent ages trying all sorts of things, including offering different types of food.  He was about to go back to the drawing board yesterday when he realised that all of the otters suddenly had their mouths open.  He wasn't sure at first what made them do it, but then he realised that he had just yawned and the hand that he used to cover his mouth to be polite, had crab legs in it.  It was more by accident than a planned thing, but sometimes this is how the animals show us what works.  Seeing that the otters reacted, he quickly gave them the crab legs.  To test the theory, he grabbed some more crab legs and yawned....before he could put his hand to his mouth, the otters were all "yawning" with him.  How handy!  Now we don't have to worry about stressing the animals out and all we have to do is pretend to yawn and the vet can check out their mouths and make sure that their teeth are healthy.

An Asian Small-clawed Otter.
So you see, what seems difficult at first may not be so difficult after all, you've just got to keep trying! (and be creative!)

Have a great week Sea Fans and chat soon.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Expresso Show

Hi Sea Fans!

We had so much fun filming the other day, you just HAVE to see it for yourself.  Monday 23 May 2011 on SABC 3 between 5.30 and 6am you'll see Heidi in action with a bunch of great kids.  Books, crafts and the aquarium - what a good combination!

Book I

Book II & the Expresso kids


Aquarium attractions that are in Book II! : )
Have a great weekend Sea Fans!  Don't forget Monday morning before you go to school.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Sharks, Whales & Penguins - want to work with them?

Hi Sea Fans!

It's been a long time, I'm so sorry, it's been a hectic 2 weeks.  A sunfish rescue, checking out the Great White Sharks and what research is being done, attending the Ecos Schools Showcase (like an expo), a leaking tank (we saved the fish, don't worry), being at the Kirstenbosch Biodiversity Expo (it's still on till Sunday so those of you who want to pop in, please do!),

The author, Heidi, at the Kirstenbosch Biodiversity Expo.
and preparing for a market in Parklands tomorrow (Cafe Picasso from 9 am to 1pm) has really kept us busy.  But seeing as I haven't written in a while I think I'll break the stories up into a few blogs so for now, here's an interview I did with a really friendly Marine Biologist who works at a Shark and Whale watching Centre:

Professional: Michelle Wcisel

1. What is your job?
I am a zoologist/marine biologist at a non-profit organization called the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

2. What did you study/do to get this kind of work?
I studied Zoology at university. I always had a keen interest in the outdoors and animals.

3. What do you do in a normal day?
No day is normal, which is why I love my job! Whether it is a cormorant that's in need of rescue, guiding on the whale watching boat, or tracking a great white shark, everyday brings new adventures!

4. What is the most interesting thing you've come across/experienced in your job?
The first time I met a Southern right whale was a moment I will never forget. We were at sea early one beautiful morning. The sun was just rising and the calm ocean mirrored the pink hue of the sky. The large black body of a whale parted the still water, and the misty deep exhale of the whale rose meters in the air catching the first yellow rays of sunlight. The whale approached our vessel and curiously circled us in a very elegant arching movement. It was an incredible moment.

5. What is a not-so-nice thing about your job?
Hmmm, tough question! Like I said, my work is different everyday and I often spend many hours at a computer or at sea, so it's hard for me to remember to do the everyday things like grocery shopping or taking out the garbage (my house can get very smelly)!!

6. What do you love about your job?
I love that I get to spend everyday outdoors with animals and show people how beautiful our world is! Also, I get to work with people who share the same passion about wildlife that I have.

7. What would you say/recommend to kids who want to do what you do?
All great things come with lots of hard work and enthusiasm. Be prepared for challenges and greet them as an opportunity to learn!

8. Anything else?
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher, an astronaut, a singer, a biologist, an engineer, a jazz musician, and the list goes on! Don't be afraid to try different things because you never know what you will end up having a passion for.

So what do you think, Sea Fans?  Do you want to do what Michelle does?  It sounds like fun!  Stay tuned for more interviews because as the weeks go by I'll keep interviewing more professionals so that you know what kind of interesting environmental work there is.

Have a great weekend Sea Fans and chat soon.
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