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Hey folks,

It's been a mighty long time since I posted in this forum but given that my traditional June meeting hosting is off, I thought I'd pass along some thoughts and stir this sucker from dormancy. As we all know, the business of taking care of our critters doesn't stop despite what might be happening in the world outside. Despite how quickly we become inured to The New Normal, wandering the corridors of Hatfield Marine Science Center is still a bit surreal. The only people onsite are the husbandry team and the facilities guys. All the students and academic types are long gone and have been effectively banished from the premises.

When the scope of the pandemic became clearer, each HMSC department head was asked which of their staff was essential and the electronic locks were calibrated to only allow the 12 or so essential people access to the buildings. So, the four of us on the husbandry team are mostly working adjusted schedules, taking care of our systems and animals and trying to avoid each other's areas of the facility. Having the Visitor's Center closed indefinitely is disastrous for the revenue stream that funds most of the VC personnel and nuts-and-bolts upkeep of the place. As most of you know, the place runs mostly on donations and the guests that would normally be swarming the joint in the spring and summer months just aren't around. How this will affect this part of the facility for the foreseeable future isn't clear yet but one thing's for sure: it's a staggering blow and a sobering reminder of how this is affecting many other facilities, businesses, and especially, families.

Right now is also prime time for the Education Department, with marauding hordes of schoolkids from around the PNW descending on the Ed Wing for wet labs, estuary hikes and other innovative programming that draws K-12 kids from as far away as Montana. In any other May, the educators would be booked with classes in both labs and outdoors all day long. That, and all the revenue that these classes bring to the Ed Dept., is also at a complete standstill.

For us fishheads, we're taking on lots of projects that would otherwise be impractical or impossible. Exhibits being taken down for deep cleaning, new aquascaping, repurposing, etc. Lots of critters being moved back to systems in my lab in back for holding and medical treatments. I've been able to take on projects that I've wanted to do for a long time, i.e., a complete teardown and remodel on my Hospital/Quarantine. Next week, the floor will get a much-needed paint job and the lower half of the walls will also get a fresh skin of paint. When that's complete, I can start moving new H/Q holding systems in place and begin building new systems that exemplify the best practices that we teach to the Aquarium Science and veterinary students that come to work with us. This will also open up room in my Teaching Lab for new systems and probably new animals that are not in the collections at the Teaching Aquarium up at the community college or at Oregon Coast Aquarium.

In the coming months and years, we will also be able to implement some changes in the Teaching Lab that we've wanted to do for quite a while. We've always provided back-of-the-house tours of my lab for different groups for a modest fee. To that end, we're going to be adding signage for each of the systems, explaining the purpose of each system, what the different types of filtration are and why they were chosen for this system, information about the animals, etc. This will allows us to provide more tours, drive more revenue for the Aquatic Animal Health Program and give the folks on these tours a more complete picture of the teaching that goes on back there. We expect that it will also give our colleagues in Oregon Sea Grant a better understanding of the work that we do and provide better outreach opportunities for both programs. Most of the funding for the AAHP is provided by OSG but few of those people really understand what we do.

This post may be a poor substitute for seeing you folks next month, which is something I look very much forward to each year. However, I thought that an update was in order and this allows me to make a small contribution to this amazing group of people. Stay safe, be well and continue to look out for yourselves and each other as best you can. I'll surely miss hosting next month's meeting but the good news is there'll be plenty of new things to see and talk about when I host again next year.

Cheers, guys. 🐙




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Hey Sid - good to hear from you and that you are still able to do the necessary work to keep all the creatures well while you are shut down to the public.  Will definitely miss the opportunity to see you this year... at least for our usual summer club meeting.  Looking forward to a time you and the Hatfield crew can restart all your educational activities - whenever that may be.

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