As reported by Kathryn Justice, Mystic Aquarium’s Trainer of Cetaceans and Pinnipeds
NOVEMBER 20-27, 2017: My third and final week at the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) was a transitional period; during which I have said goodbye to a few colleagues and welcomed yet other new ones. As it has been with my entire experience, I continued to be excited by the opportunity to learn from the knowledge and skill set that each trainer brought to this rehabilitation effort.
My daily duties continued on as they had in the previous weeks, including monitoring Tyonek 24/7, prepare his bottles, make his formula, clean dishes, record behavioral notes, and administer environmental enrichment devices. Since Tyonek was doing well in his shallower water environment, the ASLC team determined that he may benefit from having access to various depths. Not only did adding three feet of water to his habitat double the size of it, but it also allowed him to explore water that was 6 feet deep. This is important because the water level is now deeper than he is long to encourage diving.
It was strange to spend Thanksgiving away from my family, but it definitely allowed me to reflect on just how thankful I was; not only to be able to have this amazing opportunity but also to lend my skills in any way possible to this incredible effort. Again, it is remarkable to see how critical zoos and aquariums are in this type of situation and how all have come together to help rehabilitate this little calf.
I had only a brief crossover with Mystic’s Senior Trainer of Cetaceans and Pinnipeds, Ray Molnar (since he was on an alternative shift). I know that everyone will be as welcoming to Ray as they were to me. My last shift with Tyonek was bittersweet! But, I knew that he was and will continue to be in the best of hands and under the best care possible at Alaska SeaLife Center.