Time to count some fish!

December is a busy month for all of us in the Giant Ocean Tank. As we try to wrap up projects and meet deadlines at the end of the year we also undergo a massive project that requires all of the staff and volunteers to work together. This project is our end of the year census which involves counting every animal in the GOT to ensure that everyone is accounted for. With over 1200 animals in the exhibit this is quite the feat!

Taking notes
We use underwater slates and pencils to write down our counts during each dive.

Slate with a list of fish. Yup, we use regular old pencils to take the notes.

The census is also an excellent opportunity for us to practice our fish identification skills. It is easy to get rusty on over 120 species IDs if you don't practice.

This year we are also trying something new. We are working to establish an average length for each fish in order to estimate a weight for that species. These PVC sticks are taped with sections of varying lengths to help us make these estimations.

A measuring stick allows us to approximate a fish's length.

At the end of our dives we record the number of fish we counted onto a worksheet which will get totaled and submitted at the end of the month. These totals are then made available to national organizations like the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Fancy spreadsheet help when you have lots of fish to count

Having an accurate record of our collection is important because it also helps us better develop our collection plan for the following year. (Check out the blogs from our most recent collecting trip.) We aim to have as minimal an impact as possible when collecting animals and knowing how many individuals we have in the collection helps us ensure that goal.

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