"Students know how to formulate critical questions and generalize from their findings. They are able to identify the big, essential questions about their learning. They know how to collaborate and cooperate with each other."

– 5th Grade Teacher

About Us

Moon Jellies Fun fact

The jellies featured in the Aquarium are in exhibits specifically made for jellies, which would get sucked into the filtration systems of regular exhibits. (Jellies aren't strong swimmers.)

The Maritime Aquarium Staff

Dr. Brian Davis, President & CEO (Brian Davis bio)

Dave Truedson, Chief Operating Officer

John Lenzycki, Curator of Animals

Alicia Wettenstein, Director of Development

Tom Naiman, Director of Education & Volunteers

Tina Tison, Director of Marketing

(See our Contact Us page for e-mails and phone extensions.)

 

The Maritime Aquarium Staff

Dr. Brian Davis, President & CEO (Brian Davis bio)

Dave Truedson, Chief Operating Officer

John Lenzycki, Curator of Animals

Alicia Wettenstein, Director of Development

Tom Naiman, Director of Education & Volunteers

Tina Tison, Director of Marketing

(See our Contact Us page for e-mails and phone extensions.)

 

National Zoo Keeper Week: July 16-22

edited photo

Get to know some of our amazing Aquarists as we celebrate

National Zoo Keeper Week July 16 - 22!

 

Kelsey Yates  |  Brendan Pisarski  |  Sam Siebert  |  Jamie Veth  |  Cory Scott 

Rachel Stein  |  Ellen Riker


Kelsey  Yates,  AquaristKelsey Zoo Keepers Week

How were you first inspired to become an aquarist?

By random chance I met someone who knew an aquarist and I did a job shadow with her. I fell in love with the job because it is so multifaceted, and not one day is the same. Plus, working with aquatic life is awesome and interesting, and having the opportunity to share it with others at the same time is what makes this job the best.

What animals do you work with?

I am still pretty new here and have not been assigned a permanent area. I am from the Northwest and I have primarily worked with fish and invertebrates from the Northern Pacific.

What is a typical day like for an aquarist?

That is so hard to say! Every day is different with new challenges. Yes I feed fish and clean up after them, but I also get to administer treatments, take care of the mechanical components, and talk with the public. In any given day I could be an educator, a plumber, an artist, and a fish nurse. But all of those jobs are a part of being an aquarist, and that is what makes the job so amazing.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

This job makes me feel like I am making a difference in the world. Because of the work that I do to take care of our animals and exhibits, I am also helping to create an opportunity for the public to see spectacular animals that they would not normally get to see. I am a firm believer that you have to know something in order to preserve it. Looking out over the surface of the ocean, you cannot even fathom what amazing life is below. But by providing living exhibits for everyone to enjoy, I hope to inspire others to love the ocean and want to conserve it.

Do you have a favorite or interesting story from your job?

Back when I lived in Oregon, I worked as an interpretive diver for a small aquarium and we handled the animals in the tank as a part of the interpretive dive show. As you can imagine, it took a while to build a trusting relationship with a fish who would normally otherwise view me as a predator. The best feeling in the world to me, that I have trouble describing, is having a fish swim up to you, and allow you to handle it and interact with it. Having a trusting relationship with an animal is one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever had.


Brendan Pisarski, AquaristBrendan Zoo Keeper Week

How were you first inspired to become an aquarist?

The inspiration to become an aquarist stemmed from my interest in fish from an early age. I always liked to learn about different species and how they interact with each other. I knew I wanted to work with fish as a career and that led me to becoming an aquarist.

What animals do you work with?

I work with our temperate animals. Most of them represent the majority of invertebrates and fish, which can be in Long Island Sound. Many of them found in colder waters such as lumpfish and cod. I also work with the sharks and rays in the touch tank.

What is a typical day like for an aquarist?

Walking in the door each day starts with visually checking the condition of each of the exhibits; from making sure the filtration is running properly to the health of the animals in the tanks. Food must also be prepared for the animals. Each type of animal has a diet that is optimal for them. Other tasks must be attended to each day as well. Water changes performed and windows and décor often need to be cleaned.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy that every day can be different. New challenges and tasks keep my mind sharp and allow me to improve my skills from husbandry to plumbing.

Do you have a favorite or interesting story from your job?

I was traveling to North Western Connecticut to pick up salmon from a hatchery for one of my exhibits. It was mid fall and raining when I began the trip. As I drove further the rain turned to snow. By the time I arrived at the hatchery, I had driven through a blizzard.


Sam  Siebert,  AquaristSam Zoo Keeper Week

How were you first inspired to become an aquarist?

I was first inspired to become an aquarist while working with the larval production of blood red fire shrimp at the Roger Williams University Wetlab. Taking care of these delicate animals was an exciting challenge since I was part of a team that was the first to successfully rear these creatures in a lab environment. Figuring out new improvements to the system and better ways to take care of the shrimp was satisfying, knowing that once the larvae were adults and were shipped out to different companies, these shrimp would educate many more people on the specific needs that they require.

What animals do you work with?

I work with a variety of tropical marine fish including clownfish, eels, triggerfish, tangs, tropical coral species, green sea turtles, a loggerhead sea turtle, a barracuda, skates, rays and chain link sharks.

What is a typical day like for an aquarist?

In the morning, I check each tank in the tropical gallery to feed the fish and make sure they are healthy. I also check the filtration of the tanks, temperature, and anything that needs to be fixed for the better care of the animals. After checks, there are certain tanks that have to be maintained. On different days, certain tanks are water changed, some of the filtration is cleaned or changed out and the tank is scrubbed to get rid of any algae. After maintenance, I prepare food for the animals that are fed in the afternoon for that particular day. After feeding, I then examine the tanks for cleanliness and do PM checks.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy interacting with the animals on a daily basis, either through training, feeding or just regular maintenance on the tanks. Knowing that my job helps people learn more about these marine species makes feel that I am giving more awareness on how important it is to conserve the many species in the ocean.

Do you have a favorite or interesting story from your job?

My favorite story is about training the loggerhead sea turtle to make it easier to feed her and help with vet checks. Training her to follow a target was a challenge but it was very rewarding when she followed the target all around the tank. This allowed me to keep an eye on parts of her shell that were healing but also made her focus and be more interactive and comfortable with me. Being able to interact with this animal daily and see significant progress on her training was amazing and satisfying. Even though there is still more work with her target training, she is an incredible animal and I am very proud to be a part of this ongoing accomplishment.


Jamie  Veth,  Aquaristjamie zoo keeper week

How were you first inspired to become an aquarist?

I have always loved the ocean and have wanted to work with marine animals since I was young. I remember watching movies as a kid and hoping that one day I could work hands on with animals. Initially I thought that I only wanted to be a trainer but after an internship at the Maritime Aquarium I realized a role as an aquarist was equally as appealing.

What animals do you work with?

I currently work with wide variety of jellyfish species, giant Pacific octopuses, and lionfish.

What is a typical day like for an aquarist?

A typical day for me starts with checking on all my tanks and animals. Once I check on everyone, I feed all of my animals then work on cleaning the tanks. After cleaning the tanks, I perform extensive water quality tests to make sure our animals are in a healthy environment. I also enrich the octopuses twice a day to help elicit natural behaviors to keep their minds and bodies healthy.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

There are two aspects that I love about my job. First, I enjoy working with these incredible animals hands on everyday especially training with the giant Pacific octopuses. Second, I really love talking to the public about our animals and the care we give them. I enjoy sharing information with the public that they may not have known before. I think it is amazing that our animals and the knowledge that we share with the public inspires them to learn about and protect these animals.

Do you have a favorite or interesting story from your job?

An interesting story from my job would have to be the time myself and one coworker stayed at the aquarium during a blizzard. Many people don't realize that aquarists and trainers report to work on snow days and holidays. It was a lot of fun being able to hang out with the animals on a snow day!


Cory  Scott,  Mammal  Trainer/AquaristCory Zoo Keeper Week

How were you first inspired to become a mammal trainer?

Since I was young, I had a passion for caring for animals. Visiting aquariums and zoos to learn about animals and conservation inspired me to become a mammal trainer.

What animals do you work with?

Meerkats, river otters, harbor seals and flamingos

What is a typical day like for an aquarist/mammal trainer?

Much of my morning is spent cleaning the animal habitats and preparing all their food for the day. Then in the afternoon most of my time is spent training with the animals.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Getting to share my passion for conservation with guests is my favorite part of my job.


Rachel  Stein,  Senior AquaristRachel Zoo Keeper Week

How were you first inspired to become an aquarist?

I’ve always wanted to work with animals, though growing up I didn’t know that someday I would end up working at an aquarium. I did spend a lot of time as a child playing in the pond in my backyard, catching bugs and creating a small ecosystem for them in a small tank in my house. When I moved to Norwalk with my husband I was lucky enough to get a job working for the education department at the Maritime Aquarium, and with some persistence I was able to snag a job in the aquarist department soon after. I’m sure my experiences growing up steered me to where I am today, and I couldn’t be happier!

What animals do you work with?

I am the Senior Jellies Aquarist, and spend my time caring for, culturing, collecting, and displaying various species of jellies.

What is a typical day like for an aquarist?

Every day each aquarist is in charge of a section, or a group of tanks. With the jelly tanks, we always start the morning off by checking over the tanks we care for, ensuring that the animals are in good health and the life support systems are functioning properly. Then we harvest, feed out, and restock our brine shrimp cultures, and spend the rest of our morning scrubbing and cleaning our display tanks before the aquarium is open to the public. The rest of our day is filled with additional feeds, testing and adjusting the water quality in our tanks, tending to the jelly cultures, servicing to our behind-the-scenes tanks and filtration systems, and any projects we can squeeze into our day. Sometimes we even go out collecting for more jellies. Before we go home for the day we check and feed all our tanks one more time.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Being a jellies aquarist I love working with the jellies, especially in the jelly culture lab. We are currently culturing 9 species of jellies, and I love watching as they grow from cute little ephyrae to beautiful elegant medusae. I especially enjoy seeing how visitors are captivated by the animals we have reared here at the aquarium!

Do you have a favorite or interesting story from your job?

Animal keepers need to care for their animals every day of the year, rain or shine. One year we had a terrible snow storm, and the Aquarium, as well as the roads in Norwalk, were closed down. At the time I lived a short ways from the aquarium, so with my husband for company I strapped on my cross country skis and we skied the 3 miles to work in the snow. The poor driving conditions actually made for excellent skiing! Only a couple others made it in that day, but together we were able to tend to the animals quickly and get home. As far as I know I’m the only person to have ever skied to the Aquarium!


Ellen  Riker,   Senior AquaristEllen Zoo Keeper Week

How were you first inspired to become an aquarist/mammal trainer?

I visited a small aquarium on Cape Cod with my family at age 4 that had dolphins and a sea lion. I became fascinated with marine mammals after seeing them there and knew from that moment I wanted to be a marine mammal trainer.

What animals do you work with?

Harbor seals, river otters and meerkats

What is a typical day like for an aquarist/mammal trainer?

Lots of cleaning!  I spend my day caring for the animals by cleaning their exhibits, the support areas, washing dishes, preparing their diets and providing them with enrichment.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Seal kisses!

Do you have a favorite or interesting story from your job?

My husband proposed to me on the seal rocks during a seal feeding. He had all my co-workers in on it and at the end of the feeding when I asked if anyone had questions, he raised his hand and came out on the ramp and got down on one knee.