April 24 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, December 19, 2013
There will be a 100 extra mouths to feed on Christmas Day at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre - evacuees from the recent floods.
Feeding the thousands of residents and making sure all are happy and healthy is generally a job for one on Christmas morning.
This year though there are more than 130 extra mouths to feed, which means senior aquarist Darren Gook, who drew the initial short straw, will have company after all.
Curator Christine Pitcher was expecting a relaxing day with her family in Hunstanton, but events of December 5 in that same resort have put paid to that. Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary was flooded and all its creatures had to be evacuated.
“Showing true Christmas spirit we found room at the inn for 132 of the fish and other residents who suddenly found themselves homeless,” said Christine.
“We were very happy to do so of course, but it does mean six extra penguins, eight extra tropical sharks, a second greedy sea turtle and more than a hundred more assorted fish will need feeding.”
Food quantities for each display are carefully calculated to ensure each creature gets just the right amount.
“We’ve had to work out where and by how much to increase the feed, but not only that the job of delivering that food takes a good deal longer,” added Christine.
“Darren’s biggest challenge will be the tropical sharks, because our own residents are all trained to respond to their own individual feeding cues.
“He will have a job making sure the six new black-tipped sharks, one bonnet head and one guitar shark don’t steal food intended for one of the trained sharks, but that they do get their own compliment as well.
“My trickiest task will be the penguins. With 16 instead of 10 there is more than the customary amount of squabbling over fish, and I have to somehow keep track to make sure none go hungry.”
It will be a very early start for Darren and Christine, whose food-preparation will begin around 6am.
It does have its compensations though.
“It’s the only day of the year when we get the centre to ourselves and the relative peace and tranquility makes the experience of being among so many amazing sea creatures even more magical,” said Christine.
If all goes smoothly the pair expect to be finished by noon and head off to for some well-earned Christmas dinner. Sadly for Christine, that’s a two hour journey back to Hunstanton whereas Darren lives five minutes away.