#42: Dive Buddies - Meet Chris B

Being a Giant Ocean Tank (G.O.T.) diver, as you can imagine, is a dream job. Diving in the tank, however, is only part of what I do here at the Aquarium. First off, I got my start back in 2005 as a penguin volunteer, so I still visit them from time to time, and help out with daily tray tasks and feedings. It takes effort to remember who's who, as the colony is constantly growing, but it's very fun and rewarding.

I received in-house dry suit dive training back in 2007, so that I could partake in outside collecting and off-site collection trips. I had a wonderful time this past Fall, during our Eastport collection trip, where we gathered specimens for the tanks of the coldwater marine gallery, one of which is where our giant pacific octopus resides.

While not underwater in Maine, I am the supervisor of 23 volunteers and interns of the G.O.T., most of which dive in the tank. It's a very fun part of my job, for we have a nice wide variety of personalities, ages and nationalities. The majority of them are in only one day per week, so every day is different!

Other minor things that I take care of include departmental purchasing (everything from shark vitamins to tile & grout brushes for scrubbing the reef), management of our walk-in freezer (storage for thousands of pounds of frozen seafood) and maintenance of the G.O.T. anodes (which prevent the tank frames from eroding).

We divers, and the sharks and turtles that we take care of, are very popular with the media. I have been on TV more this past 3 years than any period previously in my lifetime, and even made it in the Sunday Boston Globe. This is me with "Chronicle" host Anthony Everett, who is feeding Myrtle the turtle after interviewing me for their Odd Jobs piece.

If you've been following our blog, you know that we like our holidays here at the Aquarium. October brings my favorite event of the year - Fish, Fun, and Fright! I rally as many divers as I can, including volunteers, interns, co-ops and other staff, and partake in the fun myself. In 2006 I dressed as a sushi chef and chased the fish around with my fake wooden knife. I think I may have scared some kids. Last year I dressed as an astronaut (here's the video).

Previous to my employment with the Aquarium, I was a fisheries biologist in Alaska, helping the National Marine Fisheries Service in regulating our fishing industry. It was a tough job, but the experience was life-changing. I spent many months out on the Bering Sea, ultimately leaving this job and ending up in Boston because I met a girl--my wife Emily.

One of my passions is long distance running, and have started and finished the last 5 Boston Marathons, as well as NYC, Seattle, Arizona, Maine, Outer Banks, Chicago and Philadelphia. I hope to progress to ultra marathons and/or triathlons in the near future.

Hiking is also a passion of mine. In fact, so much so, that I am taking the next 5 months off to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with Emily. 2,655 miles through California, Oregon, and Washington. This will be my last post for awhile. If you want to follow our progress, you can access our personal blog via my profile page.

Happy Trails!

- Chris


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