Wild About Marine Life
by Steven Joseph Glaze (Inspire Charter School, grade 5)
How did you get interested in marine animals?
My whole life my Mom has been reading me books about sharks and the ocean. We watch movies like Free Willy, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2. We always go to the beach when it is warm out. I love to swim in the waves and play in the sand. We also gather shells and find things like crabs and sea slugs at the tide pools. A few years ago we went to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and the Clearwater Aquarium in Florida where I met Hope and Winter, the dolphins from the Dolphin Tale movie.
What inspired you to be a volunteer at the Aquarium of the Pacific?
My Mom took me to a late night event at the Aquarium of the Pacific in December and I loved it. I had so many questions that I followed a volunteer from station to station. She said that I should work at the aquarium. I was surprised because I didn’t know that kids could do that. That night my Mom and I went on the website and applied. We got an interview, went to 25 hours of Critter College to learn about the animals and then we were trained to work our stations.
How long have you been volunteering?
I have been volunteering for six months this year. I have earned 120 hours or so. I usually work for 5 hours a week sometimes 10 hours, if I decide to.
What do you do as a volunteer at the aquarium?
I get to feed the animals like the bamboo sharks, epaulette sharks and the rays. I also got trained to talk on the microphone at Shark Lagoon and Ray Pool and tell visitors to touch the animals with a gentle two finger touch. I also answer lots of questions and tell visitors all about the animals.
Shark Lagoon is a place at the Aquarium of the Pacific where all of are smaller sharks and large sharks live, and there are some rays like baby bat rays and the blue tail ribbontail rays. Visitors get to touch the bamboo sharks and learn about the shark’s dermal denticles, which is rough skin that feels almost like sandpaper. I show guests the shark eggs which is called a
Mermaid purse. Sharks are special animals that are born both by live birth or by egg.
Ray Pool this is where we have a lot of rays like bat rays, diamond rays and shovelnose guitarfish. I also feed the rays restaurant quality fish and shrimp. I also show guests a replica of their bony plate of their teeth and their barbed stinger.
The Northern Pacific Touch Lab is a place where visitors can touch any of the animals in the exhibit especially the sea anemones, snails, crabs and sea urchins that will give your finger a little a hug. The water is really cold and is usually 40-45 degrees, so your fingers get cold.
At the Shark Cart we show guests real sharks teeth, their jaw bones, and replica skulls. We also show pictures of many kinds of sharks, like the whale shark, the blacktip reef shark, the whitetip reef shark, and the tiger shark. The cart can be found under the model of the blue whale, the largest animal in the ocean.
At the Turtle Cart you can touch a real turtle shell and a replica skull of a sea turtle. I also show visitors a book of turtle facts and then give them a stamp on their arm or fist of different kinds of sea turtles.
Inside Lorikeet Forest I help visitors feed the birds the nectar. I tell people about the birds and their diets which consists of lots of fruit, and how they live here at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Sometimes the birds come and land on your head and arms if you're lucky.
and they get a lot of fruit the get up stuff by their wings or there beak.
Sometimes we are in the Frogs: Dazzling and Disappearing Exhibit and we help guests to find the frogs because they are very good at. They like to hide in their habitat so its hard 2 see them and some of the frogs are poisonous
Sometimes I open the Southern California Steelhead Story cart and have to push it from the Arc (Education office) and set it up near the Rainbow Trout exhibit. At this station I tell visitors about how these local fish are born as small rainbow trout in the river system and then some of them swim to the ocean. The fish that go to the ocean grow and transform into steelheads. We play a game that tests your sense of smell to see if you were a steelhead, if you could find your find your way home to spawn. They lay their eggs in the river systems where they were born so they use their sense of smell to find their way home and then back to the ocean again.
I get to stand inside the Moon Jelly Station and show people that not all jellyfish can hurt you. These creatures are made of 95% water and they just gift around the tank and they eat brine shrimp The jellies live for about 4-6 months and have 4-8 stomachs. and are native to the Long Beach area. Many guests are afraid to touch jellyfish but when I tell them that they feel like a wet gummy bear they try and often laugh.
What is your favorite animal at the aquarium and why?
Penguins because they are so cute and they are interesting to learn about. They eat a lot of fish and they waddle when they walk. They lay eggs and have super cute baby penguins that the aquarium will let guests name through contests. My favorite penguin is Admiral Fancy Pants. I am traveling to South Africa in October and will get to take a boat to visit penguins that live on a special island there.
Are there any other things that you like about the aquarium?
I get to visit when I’m at home. My favorite things to watch are the live web cameras of some of the exhibits. They operate 24/7 so I can always see what my favorite penguins, sharks, fish and turtles are up to! My favorite is the web camera at the Tropical Reef. I will watch that all day while I do my homework.
Watch the live web cameras here
There are also videos of experts talking about the animals, that I like to watch from home as part of my marine biology research.
What have you learned volunteering at the Aquarium of the Pacific? I have learned that most animals act according to the natural habitat where they live. Bottom feeder animals live in areas where they can hide on the seafloor under sand or rocks, and they grab food as it swims or crawls by. My other favorite part of the aquarium is the other people who volunteer and work there. They are so nice. My favorite is Elaine who has maybe two thousand hours of volunteering. They say your hours on your nametag when you have earned over a few hundred. I also love to feed a lot of animals and I really just love everything about the aquarium. I think that I want to be a marine biologist or a veterinarian when I grow up.
How can other kids and families volunteer, too?
Anyone can apply to be a volunteer! Kids 9-15 need their parents to volunteer with them. If you are 16 of over, you can apply through the high school program or the Volunteen program.
You need to apply through the Aquarium of the Pacific’s website. They ask you questions about why you want to volunteer, what interests you about marine life and if you can commit to six months of volunteering for at least once a week. If you are picked you go in for an interview and then get trained. You don't get paid as a volunteer but for every 50 hours you volunteer, you get free tickets that say, "Volunteers Are Awesome!"
VolunTEEN Program (14-16 years old):
We hope to see you at the aquarium soon!