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Inspiration

Grainger Everyday Heroes: Aquarist

5/15/20
Grainger Editorial Staff

There's less than 10 fatalities every year from shark attacks and humans kill 100 million of them every year. So I always like to remind people that a human is a much scarier animal than a shark and in the grand scheme of things they've been around for millions of years, I'd like to make sure that they'll be around for a million more.

My name is Heather Urbaniak. I'm a Senior Aquarist here at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I start at about 6:30 in the morning every day. When we get here, you start off doing rounds. So rounds involves checking temperature, salinity. We also collect water samples early in the morning. Super important part of taking care of aquatic critters is making sure that the environment they're living in is doing good, which is why we take water samples. After morning rounds, cut up food for everybody, feed it out. Each individual group is fed. They're trained to come up to station to feed. They have a target that we place in the water, a visual cue and also an audio cue that we use as a clicker under the water. Just like you see the dolphins and the whales trained, we train our sharks. So feedings do take a while. We like doing it that way because it's organized.

They don't eat as much as a marine mammal or things like that because they're cold blooded. They don't have the metabolism of a mammal. So these guys, a lot of them are only getting fed three days a week, depending on the group. Some of them meet five days a week. Some eat four, others eat two days a week. And then we have baby sharks, so they're growing. They have bigger metabolic needs because they're putting a lot of energy into growing.

They're fascinating, they're wonderful animals. Doing what I do, I feel like I need to educate people on them and also be their voice and let people know things that they can do to help wild sharks and wild populations. I love working with animals. It was like, I didn't really choose sharks, sharks chose me.

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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