Access Daybreak: The Virginia Aquarium

Access Daybreak: Inside the Virginia Aquarium

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- It takes a lot to make the Virginia aquarium function and a lot of that goes on behind closed doors. Today Access Daybreak goes behind the scenes.

If you can believe it, there are over 10,000 animals here! Each one needs to stick to a specific diet and must be cared for differently to ensure they stay happy and most importantly healthy.

One can imagine that that takes a whole lot of food! Each morning, well before guests arrive workers prepare hundreds of pounds of fish, shrimp, scallops, lettuce and more to feed everyone. In a year this routine adds up to distributing over 50,000 pounds of food to the aquariums residents!

Having so many animals and so many different environments leads to the possibility of bacteria growth and disease spread if the animals’ homes aren’t well maintained, this is where science comes in to play!

Catie Whetton, a lab technologist explains: "We do over 1,500 tests in here. We test anything from ammonia to bacteriology.”

Running these tests daily and weekly to ensure the highest standards are held.

Catie states, "So we basically keep the aquarium running.”

When the animals aren’t eating, they are either interacting with guests or... going to school. Each animal is involved in something called "enrichment" or an easier way to think of it is games that stimulate the animals’ brains and teaches them new things.

For example, the seals! They learned how to maneuver water cooler containers to empty fish out of inside of them. Most of the animals here are extremely intelligent and it blows your mind to see what they are able to do.

So much goes on behind the scenes here to make sure the Virginia Aquarium not only promotes conservation of the marine ecosystem but also to immerse guests in the experience and open their eyes to the vast world beneath the waves in which all those creatures call home.


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