So as I’m sure you know through one way or another, life has not slowed down at all since I moved to Toronto. I started work the day after I landed, and started work with a bang. We were transporting sharks daily, working 24 hour shifts, up to 14 days in a row, and doing some of the craziest things I think I may ever experience. It has been a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly; some days have been amazing, others have been draining and downright disheartening, and others still have been some of the weirdest compilation of hours. But I’ve done it all with some fantastic people from all over Canada and the US, and honestly our husbandry team is pretty freaking awesome. We were under pretty strict orders to not post anything too detailed, or any photos, of the aquarium during its start-up phase, as the excitement and tension was mounting in Toronto, and understandably, the company wanted the grand unveiling to be a huge surprise. Thus, they didn’t want anything leaked ahead of time. So now, as we officially opened on October 16, 2013, I’ve finally had a chance to catch my breath, and I’m going to explain my life in the last three months. More through pictures than words, as I’ve come to do more and more lately.
First, we had 15,000 animals to bring into Toronto through a variety of methods of transportation. And we had some weird job requirements. I was lifting sharks (like the sand tiger below) that were up to 400 lbs! And then having to wear fall arrest harnesses to feed them, just in case I pitched over the edge of the rock. It was a fun day-to-day chore, and our days were anything but normal or similar.
Keep in mind, when I started, it was still an official construction zone, thus the safety glasses, hard hat, and steel-toe boots.
We started transports coming in a specially designed semi truck, trailer trucks, and by Air Cargo. The semi is below, and we brought in so many animals in this truck. It was, without a doubt, the longest process to do a semi shipment; we acclimated the animals, sometimes gave them treatment baths, transported them to their respective new homes, and then cleaned. Cleaned like there was no tomorrow. Drain, fill, bleach, thio, test, drain, fill, drain, fill… sometimes it took us 24 hours to do the whole shebang.
And those kinds of nights resulted in us getting energy in any way we could.
Xyience, by the way, stands for Xtreme Science. And somehow I willingly drank this, many times. The transports had tons of cool moments, like when the piranhas bit through the nets we were using to catch them…
Nikki & Leah proudly showing our ruined nets
… and bringing in 250 jellyfish in bags from Japan.
These beautiful little Mastigias papua are some of my favourite jellies, and now all of a sudden, I get to work with them!
Though they’re pulsing 24/7, so it’s a little hard to get a decent picture with an iPhone. Personally, being in the jelly gallery, I got to see it go from this:
and our Artemia harvest go from this:
Overall, a pretty cool experience to see how this place has grown. Here’s a few other random shots from the past few months.
The Queensland grouper, about 380 lbs of fish
One of our gorgeous sand tigers
Sitting on top of Kelp Forest during a feed
A map showing the NEPTUNE network!
And my little hometown alongside the VENUS network
One night, I was playing with this beautiful girl, Spot, scratching her shell and generally just playing around..
until she got way too excited and splashed me pretty good… Twice.
Twice. Hadn’t even dried from the first one yet.
Then we started getting closer and closer to the opening date, and things really started to pick up.
Swell & horn sharks
This is what it looks like when your bosses buy everyone dinner. We lived for these nights.
One of our beautiful girls, Octopus Prime (O.P.), a Giant Pacific Octopus
Pepper, our other, larger, GPO
Lionfish, in our Venomous Fishes habitat
Paddlefish (and others) in the Great Lakes habitat
The White Sturgeon
Gorgeous little cownose rays in Ray Bay
Kelp Forest all ready for opening
The biggest lobster in the world. Seriously. It’s as large as my torso.
But even through all this craziness, we still had just a little bit of fun.
Snapchat plays a huge role in the husbandry department
And I made a jellyfish version of myself.
And then we opened. And it got even crazier! Apparently it was kind of a big deal…
There were a couple of people there
And mermaids, for some reason
And aerial acrobats for some reason…
And now we’re a little bit popular
Maybe a lot bit popular
We work late shifts on a rotation. Dinner is a lonely time
But EVERYONE in Toronto is at the aquarium on a Saturday night for some reason
And when the vets come around, we do sweet things like giving rays ultrasounds and checking out the little baby rays
A photo tour of the whole place will come soon for those of you who won’t be getting out this way anytime soon. Sorry this was a long post, but the last three months have been pretty unreal. Stay tuned for more.
Til next time,