Do you know what an aquarist is? An aquarist is a person who manages all the animals in an aquarium and keeps them healthy. I got to personally meet Christian Legner who is an aquarist at the North Carolina Aquariums at Roanoke Island. Christian has a lot of responsibilities caring for all of the animals at the aquarium. She is usually very busy and just happened to have a few spare minutes to talk with me. Just a few things in Christian’s daily schedule are: taking care of baby animals born in the aquarium, making sure new animals are healthy, taking care of the animals in the existing exhibits, LOTS of paperwork, and caring for sick animals. Sometimes, if animals are very sick, Christian works with veterinarians to find the right medicines to treat the sick animal.

     Christian is also in charge of the quarantine facility. The quarantine facility is where new animals and baby animals born at the aquarium go. The animals must go to the quarantine facility before entering the aquarium because they may have diseases or sicknesses that can spread to the other healthy animals in the aquarium. The new animals stay in the quarantine facility until they are approved healthy and can go into the aquarium to be with the other animals.

Christian also works with N.E.S.T. Christian treats the turtles with the correct medicines, food, food weight, and other materials to help the sick turtles in the rehabilitation center get better.

     To get where she is today, Christian first started as a volunteer working at her local aquarium. She says it is a great way to “get your foot in the door,” or get familiarized with the animals, responsibilities and the environment you’re working in. Christian worked in Florida on a turtle nesting project for two years. She worked at an aquarium in Florida for one additional year prior to that. Then she got her current job as an aquarist at the North Carolina Aquariums at Roanoke Island. Christian has a bachelor’s degree in biology and says that a vet tech license would be helpful for her kind of work; though she doesn’t have one.

     It was a fun morning volunteering at the turtle rehabilitation facility and meeting Christian at the aquarium. There are always fun and exciting things to see at the NC aquarium!

March 29th, 2012