Close-Up: New England Aquarium, Boston

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Built in 1969, Boston's New England Aquarium is one of the premiere showcases for the display of marine life and habitats. Its mission is to "present, promote, and protect the world of water." These goals are carried out through exhibits and through education, conservation, and research programs.

Exhibits showcase the diversity, importance, and beauty of aquatic life and habitats and highlight aquatic conservation issues of importance.

The centerpiece for the aquarium is the 187,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank Caribbean Coral Reef Exhibit, which rises through four stories of the facility. Visitors are afforded a multi-angle view of sea turtles, sharks, moray eels, and the other tropical fish that live inside. The Ocean Tray, which holds 131,000 gallons of water and surrounds the Great Ocean Tank on the ground floor, is home to a colony of black-footed and rockhopper penguins.



In a floating pavilion adjacent to the aquarium, sea lion presentations of natural and learned behaviors are featured every day. Harbor seals reside in the outdoor pool on the aquarium's plaza. Some of these seals were found as orphaned pups along the New England coast and have been cared for by skilled aquarium biologists as part of their rescue and rehabilitation program. Through this program, aquarium staff works with distressed or injured marine animals in the wild such as whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and seals. Their goals are to rescue, rehabilitate, and, whenever possible, release the animals back into the wild.

Other research programs include working to preserve the endangered red-bellied turtle species and to help increase the declining population of black-footed penguins.

The New England Aquarium also offers a whale-watch program and a "Science at Sea" harbor tour boat.

To maintain such a range of exhibits and programs, the New England Aquarium relies on the skills and experience of a variety of professionals.

Some Important Career Opportunities at the New England Aquarium

SUPERVISOR OF GALLERY AQUARISTS

Department: Fishes

Reports to: Curator of Fishes

Hours: Nine to five (35 hours per week)

Qualifications: Four-year college degree or equivalent with emphasis on biology or other science. Broad knowledge of the aquarium field, including animal husbandry, collection and exhibition of live specimens, and life support systems. Four years' experience as an aquarist. Strong supervisory skills. Ability to design and build life support systems and habitats. Strength and endurance to perform physical demands of the job. Must possess a nationally recognized scuba diver certification.

Responsibilities: Organizes and supervises the daily routines of gallery aquarists to ensure the proper appearance, operation, and husbandry of all live animal exhibits and support areas. Participates in the animal acquisition process to ensure that all exhibits contain a full complement of specimens. Reviews exhibits on a regular basis. Oversees the design, construction, maintenance, and installation of life support systems and exhibits. Develops and executes plans for improvements to existing exhibits and support areas. Conducts interviews and makes hiring recommendations for new aquarists. Conducts annual performance appraisals for aquarists.

SUPERVISOR OF SPECIAL EXHIBITS

Department: Fishes

Reports to: Curator of Fishes

Hours: Nine to five (35 hours per week)

Qualifications: Four-year college degree or its equivalent with emphasis on biology. Four years' experience as an aquarist. A broad knowledge of the aquarium field, including animal husbandry, collection and exhibition of live specimens and life support design, installation and operation. Strong supervisory skills. Strong communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Nationally recognized scuba diver certification.

Responsibilities: Supervises the daily routines of special exhibit aquarists and program animal aquarists to ensure the proper appearance, operation, and husbandry of all live animal exhibits, laboratory animal programs, and support areas. Also responsible for research, development, and review of special exhibits. Oversees the design, installation, and construction phases of exhibits in conjunction with other departments. Oversees animal acquisition for special exhibits and education laboratory to ensure that all areas contain a full complement of specimens. Develops and executes plans for improvements to existing special exhibits. Conducts interviews and makes hiring recommendations for new aquarists. Conducts annual performance appraisals for special exhibit and education laboratory aquarists.

DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS AND EXHIBITS

Department: Programs and Exhibits

Reports to: President

Hours: Nine to five, Monday through Friday

Qualifications: Minimum education required is a B.S./B.A. with extensive course work in aquatic sciences. Doctorate preferred. Three years of administrative and managerial experience in education, research, and exhibitory. Knowledge of information technology applications in education and exhibitory. Strong communication skills (written, verbal, interpersonal) and strategic planning, creative/coordination skills. Solid experience developing budgets and spreadsheets, cost controls, and staff supervision. Grant-writing skills a plus. Volunteer-coordination skill desired.

Responsibilities: Major leadership and liaison role in overseeing budgets and content goals of education, conservation, and research departments. Developing and supporting programs and exhibits with near mission in view. Coordinating partnerships with schools, colleges, universities, research institutions, government agencies, and corporations.

VISITOR ASSISTANT

Department: Visitor Services

Reports to: Supervisor, Visitor Services

Hours: Monday through Friday

Qualifications: High school graduate comfortable in crowd situations. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Excellent attendance and punctuality essential. Cashier experience helpful.

Responsibilities: Provide first-class customer service. Assist public entry and exit process for mammal shows, main building, and special exhibits. Assist visitor services staff in various department functions.
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