Day in the life of a Birch aquarist - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Day in the life of a Birch aquarist

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - With more than 3,000 aquatic animals housed at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, do you ever wonder what goes into their care?

Behind the exhibit floor, aquarist Angie Hall and her assistant Aaron are busy prepping morning meals.

"Feeding is always a proiority, we've got to make sure everyone's fed," she said. "Everything fed here is fed frozen with the exception of the juveniles, where they have to have live food."

Infant species dine on vitamin-enriched live algae prepared in the lab. The algae is transferred to tanks containing live food specimens.

"We're enriching the animal here, this is to help them grow with a food source," Angie said.

Like human infants, young jellyfish nurse around the clock.

"They actually do require feeding all day long, so they're constantly growing," Angie said.

Grown adults dine on frozen fish.

"Aaron's prepping our food for the shark feeding. He cuts it in particular sizes because they're three different sizes of sharks we're feeding," Angie explained.

The food is served by a probe or scattered into the tanks. Aquarists monitor food intake and other behaviors.

"This our way of keeping track, mating, temperature change, all those contribute to how much one can eat," Angie said.

Feeding time is also playtime.

"Just cause they don't bark or meow you think there's no character. There is actually a lot of character in these animals," Angie said.

Aquarists also care for living spaces.

"That they have the right life support, the right kind of water and oxygen and the tanks are really clean and they're in the environment that's as natural as possible," Birch Aquarium Executive Director Nigella Hillgarth said.

"We want them to eat, and they're not going to eat unless they're happy. We want them to breed, and they're not going to breed unless they're fully happy, so we do our best to make sure everyone is happy," Angie said.

Aquarists do it with plenty of TLC.

For a complete schedule of Birch Aquarium public feedings, please click here:

http://aquarium.ucsd.edu/Plan_a_Visit/Animal_Feeding_Schedule/

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