Every other year, biologists from the Seattle Aquarium go to Hawaii to collect new warm water animals for our exhibits. This blog post is the second in a series that highlights the biologists’ experiences and gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at a collection trip.
Day 5—August 21: Lest you think a business trip to Hawaii is all glamour, here’s a look behind the scenes at our office. Note the non-existent chair, overturned bucket desk, and stunning view of concrete and colleagues’ feet. It’s not fancy, but work is still getting done. The spreadsheet you see is where we keep track of the fish and invertebrates we’ve collected.
Day 6—August 22: At the end of each day, we place our collecting totes in the shallow water and work together to transport fish and water to our van where coolers keep the water the same temperature the fish are used to living in. It was another good collecting day in Haleiwa. We collected cleaner wrasses, coral banded shrimp, yellow tangs, and raccoon butterfly.
Day 7—August 23: We had hoped to dive in a different location today. The entrance and exit from this particular dive site is difficult on a flat water day. Today the conditions were too rough to safely enter the water. So, we got back in the car and drove an hour back to the north shore where the conditions were calm enough to be safe.
Day 8—August 24: Unlike our own carry-ons, we pack the fish with great care to ensure their safe travel. Each fish is placed in a double bag and newspaper cushions are placed between fish bags. The small bags go into a big bag, which sits in a cooler that is nestled inside a well-taped packing box. It took us about two hours to pack nine boxes of fish. It’s a very hot and sweaty process! Once the fish are all packed up, they are shipped to Seattle on an overnight flight. Due to the care we take selecting, packing, and transporting the fish, their survival rate is high.