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Behind the scenes at Weymouth Sea Life Park
GINGERLY feeding sprats into the mouth of a Humboldt penguin, I could see why senior aquarist Sarah Everett loves her job.
I was delighted to have the chance to feed these funny little creatures, who came waddling over to us the moment we stepped into their enclosure.
Sarah said: “I love the penguins. They all have their own personality.
“They have their own little houses and gather things from the outside for nesting.
“Sometimes they go into the others’ houses to try and steal stuff and when one of them gets caught there’s a lot of noise. It’s a bit like a soap opera.”
Sarah, who has a bachelor of science in animal welfare and behaviour, starts her day at 8am checking on the park’s 1,000 inhabitants, preparing their food and feeding them breakfast ahead of the doors opening at 10am.
At the shark tank there are nine different types of sharks including bamboo sharks, bonnethead sharks and epaulette sharks.
Sarah said: “This is a good educational tank to burst some of those stereotypes about sharks. 80 per cent of sharks don’t grow more than 4ft long and they get a bad reputation. They say you are more likely to be killed by a toaster than a shark.
“The funny thing is when staff are snorkelling in the tank to do jobs the biggest danger isn’t the sharks but the trigger fish because they may try and bite your feet. One of the reasons I enjoy working with fish is because fish tanks have a very soothing effect.”
Some of the park’s most popular characters are the green sea turtles.
The mellow-looking creatures have found a home in Weymouth after they were injured by boat propellers in Florida.
Sarah said: “The impact cracked their shells and trapped air inside and the air saturated the tissue.
“We’ve fitted fibreglass weights on them so they can dive down to the bottom.”
Despite the seals being among the park’s most intelligent creatures, Webby the seal is afraid of the many seagulls that visit the park. Other notable whiskered inhabitants are the park’s family of otters, with Johnny, the dad of the group reaching the grand old age of 13.
The colourful weedy sea dragons are perhaps the park’s proudest acquisition, an endangered species indigenous to a small area of Australia which were brought to Weymouth from Melbourne.