Happy World Ocean Day! This annual global holiday is meant to promote public awareness of the vital role that oceans play in sustaining life on Earth. It celebrates the beauty, wealth, and potential of the oceans while raising awareness of the challenges faced by the oceans, like pollution, overfishing, and climate change. The goal of World Ocean Day is to encourage individuals and organizations to take action to protect and restore the ocean.
The Disney Parks Blog celebrated the occasion at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida with aquarist Cast Member Noel Moul. An aquarist maintains aquariums by managing the water and the aquatic life. Sometimes they help breed aquatic species and educate about aquatic conservation.
Noel has gladly worked with Disney in its conservation efforts for about four years. Starting in Hawai’i, Noel loves sea creatures and the diversity of animals she gets to work within an aquarium setting. At Disney World, Noel cares for the creatures in the main tank at The Seas with Nemo & Friends in the EPCOT theme park. She starts before sunrise!
The Sharks at EPCOT’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends
The Disney Parks Blog highlights Haliaka, a “quick-witted” hammerhead shark described as “social” and a “curious problem solver.” Noel says Haliaka is one of her favorites because she is different from any hammerhead she’s met. Apparently, Haliaka is very “in-your-face!”
Light cues are used to alert the sharks to feeding time and direct them to their breakfast because it is still dark outside. Noel admits feeding them can be a bit tricky because sharks can’t stop swimming! Disney Parks Blog explains that “sharks need to continue swimming to allow water to pass over their gills to breathe.” Even trained sharks have to eat on the go, so Noel goes along underwater with them as they do.
Caring for The Seas’ Other Aquatic Life
On the water’s surface, Noel uses a ramp to feed smaller rays and stretchers for larger ones, all while keeping track of their diets and behavioral patterns. Apparently, Noel can recognize them all upon sight! She shares that Buttercup, a cownose ray, always adorably comes up the ramp the wrong way first! She later gets in the water to feed species like the shovel-nosed guitarfish, cowtail ray, and porcupine ray.
Noel assures that the feeding methods are “designed to mimic their most natural behaviors [and] accurately reflect the environment of the ocean.” Things like biodiversity engage and stimulate Noel’s fish friends.
Here’s how Noel recommends celebrating oceans every day:
- Cleaning up after yourself at the beach
- Pick up other trash along the shore
- Visit zoos and aquariums that are AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited
Everyone remember to love our planet’s oceans and, like Haliaka, just keep swimming!