National Aquarium, Baltimore recently had a very exciting guest, Erica Hill from NBC’s Today Show, join for a behind-the-scenes day to help care for our animals and learn more about our Marine Animal Rescue Program!
To kick off her behind-the-scenes visit, Erica met with Poulpe, our giant Pacific octopus! She began by making and feeding the octopus some fish treats with our Aquarist, Morgan. Morgan then offered Erica the opportunity to touch Poulpe! Not expecting a tentacle handshake so early in the morning, Erica had to build up the courage to touch him. With Morgan’s reassurance and watchful eye, Erica let Poulpe stick to her! And now they can be best friends for life, right, Erica?
Poulpe saying hello to Erica!
Erica then moved on to our Dolphin Discovery exhibit to meet our Atlantic bottlenose dolphins! Here she learned about our daily husbandry exams from Allison, our manager of marine mammal training. In these daily exams, our staff checks the health of each of the eight dolphins. Erica learned the commands to get the dolphins to allow her examination of their dorsal fin and tail. She also got to have a little fun by participating a dolphin enrichment session!
Erica and the dolphins were fast friends!
After the excitement of bonding with Poulpe and the dolphins, it was onto Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes. Here, Erica helped our aviculturist, Mallorie, care for the many birds that call this immersive exhibit home, including Rosie our cockatoo! Erica helped our exhibit staff prep all kinds of bird food – from fresh fruit to live worms!
Erica assisting our staff with Rosie the cockatoo
After helping with the Australia birds, Erica also got to help our herpetologist, Kyle, with a stingray and barramundi feeding. During her feeding, she even shared some of her new animal knowledge with Aquarium guests! (We’re ready to hire you if you’re ever looking for work, Erica!)
Erica and Kyle explaining what stingrays eat
The second part of Erica’s day with us was spent at our off-site Animal Care Facility, where she met some of the turtle patients being cared for by our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team. MARP team member, Amber, shared many stories from her amazing experience on the team rescuing and caring for seals and turtles.
Erica and Amber talking turtle resuces
One of Erica’s favorite turtles to meet was the young loggerhead turtle hatchling survivor that our team rescued shortly before Hurricane Sandy.
National Aquarium rescue turtle hatchling!
After spending the day with us, Erica’s biggest take way was this: “the National Aquarium’s goal is simple: educate and inspire conservation.”
From all of us here at National Aquarium, we would like to sincerely thank Erica and the Today Show team for visiting us! We hope to see you again soon!