Career Story: Aquarist

01/02/2021
Natalie Mallory

Here at Merlin Entertainments our delightful staff are the key to providing memorable experiences for every one of our adventurers. That’s why each and every role at one of our fabulous parks and attractions must be filled by the Crème de la crème. So to prove we have the best staff, we’ll be interviewing our team members to find out just how they create those unforgettable magical Merlin moments. 

Lorna, Aquarist from Alton Towers Resort

This week we caught up with Lorna Scott, our fabulous Aquarist Team Leader based at Alton Towers Resort in the Shark Bait Reef.

Hi Lorna! So tell us a bit about what do you do at Merlin Entertainments?

Hi! My current role is as an Aquarist with SEALIFE at the Alton Towers Resort. It’s a fast paced environment, which absolutely keeps me on my toes! From motivating the team, to swimming with sharks and sorting the tank plumbing, the job of an Aquarist Team Leader is versatile to say the least; each day offers me a new adventure!

That sounds pretty exciting! And what does ‘a day in the life’ look like for you in your role?

We start the day off with a good morning brew and make our way down to the aquarium to open the doors and switch the lights on for our animals. We check their health and make sure tank integrity (life support systems such as filtration and heating) is functioning within the correct parameters.

Then I welcome in the team in and perform a morning brief to prepare them for the day ahead! 10am arrives and the attraction doors open wide to all of our amazing guests. Throughout the day we will perform all types of tasks; ranging from feeds for our sea horses and sharks, to tank cleaning, tank diving, plumbing, and even administering medication to our animals who are a little under the weather.

We pride ourselves on the cleanliness of displays and health of our animals, as well as the exciting, interactive talks offered to our visitors; so if you’re visiting the Resort you’ll mostly see us within the tanks – the less glamorous side to the role, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

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Every evening one of us (1 of 3) is on call for our wonderful creatures – everything is alarmed so if anything happens, we’ll be there in a flash to rectify anything; even at 3am or on Christmas day, the animals are our top priority. 

 

And what’s the biggest challenge of your role?

The biggest challenge is that the role can be quite demanding - mostly since these animals don’t have a clock to work to and you can get quite emotionally attached to the creatures in your care. You have to be innately passionate for this role and have a strong desire for people development too, especially since we look after a team of Animal Information Hosts and we strive to be their role models – they are the next generation of aquarists potentially!

What do you enjoy most about the role?

The fact that each day offers new experiences provides a set of skills I feel you might not be exposed to in an office only role. My problem solving skills and emotional intelligence have improved so vastly because of the networking potential, and the closeness within the team provides a new perspective on what makes everyone (fish included) tick!

What are your thoughts on working for Merlin Entertainments?

Lorna, Aquarist at Awards Show

I don’t know how Merlin does it, but they make each person somehow feel like an individual, rather than just a number. Having worked here for several years, Merlin truly cares about their employees and I couldn’t be more thankful for everything the company has provided me with. This is by far the very best part of working for Merlin.

What hours does your role require you to work? 

The hours continuously vary, it is a full time role and some weeks you can be working 30 hours and others 50 hours, depending on what the animals need you for! It works for me because I enjoy the fast paced nature of the role, but also enjoy the downtime you get; which, in turn, provides an excellent work/life balance.

Think you’ve got the sofishtication to be an Aquarist? Don't be koi, apply on the Merlin Careers website today!