Aquarist and Keeper Tom joined the Living Coasts team earlier this year and has settled in quickly.
We caught up with Tom to find out a little more about what he does and why he enjoys it so much…

Which departments do you work on?

I mainly work in the aquarium but I also help when needed on other departments including the auks, waders, seals and otters.

How many species do you care for?

Around 20 species including four eyed fish, rays, seahorses, the lobster, octopus and local species too.

What is your favourite animal at Living Coasts and why?

That’s too hard to choose! Probably the lobster because of his personality – he has an angry attitude and just attacks anything in the tank but the Octopus is great to work with too as it is very interactive which is rare for an aquatic species.

Why did you become a Keeper?

I’ve always had a fascination with the natural world. I grew up in a mining town in the North of England and I’ve always had a fascination for green spaces and where nature had reclaimed the mining pits. I always wanted to work with animals too - I kept fish as a hobby when I was 16 and I loved wildlife documentaries as a kid.

When did you become a Keeper and where?

My first job as a keeper was in Blackpool in 2010 and I was there for four years before moving on to the Blue Planet Aquarium in Chester for 3 years. I then went travelling to Thailand for a year and I realised that this (keeping) was what I really wanted to do.
When I came back from Thailand, I relocated to the South West and joined the Living Coasts team.

How did you become a Keeper?

I started volunteering and then started work as seasonal staff, learning on the job. I have a degree in wildlife conservation, zoo biology and environmental science.

How long have you been at Living Coasts?

I joined the team is April this year. Everyone is lovely and I settled in so quickly. I’m really looking forward to the future.

What is your average daily routine?

We have a morning meeting first thing to recap on previous day. After that I check all water temperatures and all of the animals in aquarium, then it’s on to feeding, tank cleaning, water changes and any other general maintenance for the rest of the day.

What is your favourite part of the job?

I’m paid to do my hobby, it’s not a burden coming in to work each day. Every day is different and I love working here.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love seeing projects come together and planning more projects for the future that can help with conservation.

Why do you feel that zoos are important?

Without zoos, I wouldn’t have been excited about wildlife as a child. I think it is really important to make wildlife accessible and to educate people about it.

Why are you passionate about conservation?

We need to work together to change attitudes and save the planet. A zoo is a living breathing museum to see things that most people may never experience in their lives otherwise.

Do you work closely with any conservation projects?

Not at present but I’m looking to do so, especially with sea grass and native seahorses.

If you could pass on just one message about conservation, what would it be?

If you see, hear or read something that makes you feel something towards it, act on it! Global warming, deforestation, recycling. Better yourself and the environment you live in for future generations.


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