Keeper and aquarist specialist, Grace Goddard, tells us of her unique experience working in aquariums and the opportunities she has gained from completing a diving qualification.
Snorkelling around the English coast
“Before I started my career in aquariums, I had experience of snorkelling around the English coast and occasionally further afield in warmer climates. Having snorkelling experience meant that when I landed my first aquarium job, I was able to get into shallow water and conduct maintenance on the tanks and catch-up fish when I needed to. However, I couldn’t get the full experience that can only come from breathing under water.”
Open water and rescue PADI certification
“I started my open water dive training in 2015 and have since gained my advanced open water and rescue PADI certification. One of the main reasons I wanted to gain my PADI license was to become more ‘hands on’ with the animals that I was working with. Without my dive experience, I would not have been able to get in the large tanks and complete maintenance duties. Some of these jobs include cleaning algae, siphoning substrate and conducting health checks on the animals.
I have dived with some amazing animals both in their natural and captive habitat, including marine and freshwater fish, penguins and turtles. My first experience of diving in the ocean was in Malaysia. I saw black tip reef sharks and the famous ‘Nemo’ (clownfish).”
Best decisions I made
“Training for my certification was hard and challenging, but it’s one of the best decisions I made for my career within aquariums. Though it’s taken me several years through extensive training, it’s possible to gain your beginners level certification in a weekend.
For anyone that wants a career within animal care and specialising in aquatic animals, I strongly advise to get your diving qualification. There really is something special about being close to these amazing animals in their natural habitat and having the opportunity to see our amazing underwater world.”