NOAA Animal Husbandry and Public Education Internship: Woods Hole Science Aquarium

By Jessica Perelman

Through the generous support of The Safina Center, I have just begun my summer as an animal husbandry and public education intern at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium (WHSA).
I am a 2016 graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in biological sciences, and want to share my experiences for anyone interested in the work that goes on in a conservation-based facility like WHSA.

Jessica on her first day as an intern at WHSA.
Jessica on her first day as an intern at WHSA

Woods Hole is a beautiful New England village that is world-renowned for its ocean sciences, and I am honored to be here amongst the devoted students and researchers who are making new discoveries every day.
Established in 1885 as the oldest marine aquarium in the country, WHSA is operated by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service with the goals of educating the public about marine life and science, as well as supporting fisheries research.

It might be small, but WHSA is an amazing facility that maintains nearly one hundred species of marine animals from Atlantic waters, including two non-releasable harbor seals.

A sunny day on Woods Hole's Great Harbor. Credit: Jessica Perelman
A sunny day on Woods Hole’s Great Harbor. Credit: Jessica Perelman

I cannot wait to learn the ins and outs of caring for these animals: preparing their food, observing daily health and behavior, and discovering just how much work goes into supporting the needs of such a wide range of creatures.

I am equally thrilled to begin meeting with aquarium visitors, acting as an interpreter for various exhibits, and serving as a naturalist on beach collection walks. These roles, in my opinion, provide the engagement in conservation and scientific investigation that are so important for the protection of the world’s oceans.

As the summer progresses, I hope to not only increase my own awareness about these matters, but to inspire all those who come through the aquarium to be mindful of the marine environment which makes up 70% of the planet.

Cape Cod's namesake fish, the Atlantic Cod. Credit: Jessica Perelman
This venomous lionfish is invasive in the Western Atlantic. Credit: Jessica Perelman

About the author: Jessica Perelman is a student at the University of Southern California studying biological sciences. She will be attending veterinary school in the fall and plans to pursue a career in wildlife and conservation veterinary medicine.

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Cape Cod’s namesake fish, the Atlantic Cod. Credit: Jessica Perelman


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Meet the Author
Ecologist Carl Safina is author of seven books, including the best-selling “Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel,” and “Song for the Blue Ocean,” which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His writing has won a MacArthur “genius” prize; Pew and Guggenheim Fellowships; book awards from Lannan, Orion, and the National Academies; and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, and elsewhere, and he hosted the 10-part “Saving the Ocean” on PBS. Safina is founding president of The Safina Center at Stony Brook University.