There are more than a million different species living in and around our oceans; that translates to over a million reasons why it is imperative to keep our aquatic ecosystems healthy. As one of the nation’s premiere aquariums, Oregon Coast Aquarium strives to educate individuals, especially young people, to respect and protect the oceans.
Every year humans dump trash and other waste into our waters, which has a devastating impact on aquatic life. While some offenders may not intend to destroy our oceans, it’s clear that they have little understanding of the disastrous consequences of polluting. We are all too familiar with tragic images of wildlife trapped in plastic wrappers and seabirds blackened with spilled oil. According to Sally Compton, Communications and Marketing Manager for the Oregon Coast Aquarium, “Our job is to inspire ocean conservation and connect people to the wildlife that live there. We want them to visit our aquarium, see the animals and leave here cherishing their ecosystems.”
Like many other aquariums, Oregon Coast Aquarium seeks to educate the public on a level that is most relevant to each individual. One of the main ways they accomplish that is through their wildlife exhibits, which help people connect with the animals in a natural way. Exhibits range from viewing exhibits, to live interactions with trainers, to touchpools where visitors can actually get up close and personal with a wide variety of creatures. “The end goal,” said Compton, “is to create an experience that will engage people and get them invested in the animals’ well-being. Witnessing a sea otter playfully splashing about or being trained by a marine mammal trainer allows the public to connect personally with the animals. Once they have that connection, it motivates the individual to want to serve the animals and protect them in the wild.”
After seeing how the animals interact in the environment, visitors can take classes to learn more. Oregon Coast Aquarium provides many classes for students to dive deeper into the topics of ocean conservation. If students can’t get to the aquarium, due to school transportation issues, the Aquarium will send teams out to local schools to help spread the message of ocean conservation.
In addition to educating students, part of the aquarium’s mission is to introduce them to the wide range of wonderful career opportunities (watch sample jobs video) that exist, not only at their Aquarium, but within the greater realm of nature conservation. Many people assume you have to be a zoologist or an animal trainer to work in an aquarium. In reality, Oregon Coast Aquarium offers a wide range of job opportunities that anyone with an interest in ocean and wildlife conservation can pursue. Most people believe the only way to have a job in animal or environmental sciences is to go into the academic world (eg: researcher/instructor) or the government (federal or state conservation programs). In actuality, you can be a part of the change no matter what type of work you want to do.
Jobs at Oregon Coast Aquarium
Oregon Coast Aquarium employs almost a hundred people ranging from marine mammal trainers to dive officers and public relations specialists. If you want to work directly with animals, you could become a trainer, which involves caring for, feeding and cleaning up after the animals. Perhaps the most important aspect of the trainer’s job is to educate the public about the animals they work with. If you are business focused but still want to preserve the oceans, like Ms. Compton, you can find employment at an Aquarium. As a Marketing Manager, she handles all the communications to raise awareness among the public about the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s conservation mission. Her varied responsibilities include social media messaging, video production, as well as other tasks to help spread the word about safeguarding our ecosystems.
Whether you want to work directly with animals, dive the exhibits, or be in an office on the business side of things, you can always work for an aquarium and be part of the larger picture. You can truly make a difference by playing your unique part in oceanic conservation. Oregon Coast Aquarium offers many different jobs (watch sample jobs video), all of which share the mission of protecting the wildlife and our oceans.
If you don’t live near an ocean and aquariums are not really your thing, don’t despair. There are many other bodies of water and ecosystems needing your time, attention, and unique talents. There are 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams in the U.S., along with 125,000 lakes and countless ponds. All of these bodies of water make up the aquatic ecosystem that runs through our country and provides drinking sources, vacation spots (beaches), and your favorite fishing hole. So, even if you live inland, you can still make a difference with water and animal conservation and protection.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s ultimate goal is to educate the public on the conservation of wildlife and nature in general, whether that involves freshwater or ocean wildlife. By embracing their mission, you can help secure a safe and healthy future for this part of our world, and the unique creatures that call these ecosystems “home.” Find your passion and role in conservation and protection by exploring unique work environments like the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
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