Snag That Dream Job: I wanna...work with sharks!
What do you wanna be when you grow up? GL recently had the chance to go to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove in Florida to interview peeps with some of the most coveted jobs in the world (dolphin trainers, roller coaster engineers, animal pathologists and more!).
Find out how they got started and how YOU could score one of these coveted careers someday.
© 2009 SeaWorld Orlando, All Rights Reserved.
Getting ready to dive with sharks (that's me on the right!).
I love to swim and I'm pretty much down for any adventure but I gotta admit I was sort of scared and nervous when I saw a "Sharks Deep Dive" on my schedule for SeaWorld. I'd be plunging into a tank with yep, real live sharks (more than 30, plus all sorts of live fish!). Um, would this end up as the plot of Jaws IX (what number are they up to, again?)!
When I got to the Sharks Deep Dive, I was outfitted in a full-body wetsuit—gloves, booties, everything! I was still kinda hesitant when I saw stuff like those astrounaut-y helmets and a huge metal cage. Our guides gave us a brief talk about what to expect and some dos and don'ts and then it was time to dive in and take the plunge.
I'll admit I was still pretty nervous the first few secs I was underwater. The great thing about the helmet is you have a balloon-like device on top so you're kinda floating AND you can talk through the helmet to the guides who aren't in the cage just in case ya have any questions or some sort of an emergency.
As soon as I got used to being underwater I realized just how AWESOME this experience was. The cage is totally safe—made from heavy-duty wire with a thick glass panel at about eye level so I could get up close and personal with all the sharks and fish. Ever looked straight into a Great White Shark's eerie blue eyes? Yeah, pretty amazing!
After the deep dive was over (um, and I kind of never wanted it to end!) I got to interview shark expert Gretchen Scrimger about her awesome job.
© 2009 SeaWorld Orlando, All Rights Reserved.
With my crazy-looking helmet after my dive. And to think that Gretchen does this for a living....
Here's what Gretchen had to say about getting started, her typical work duties and her fave parts of the job. Are you really into marine animals like sharks? Pretty much a mermaid in the water? Then Gretchen's career might be perfect for Y-O-U!
GL: How did you go this sort of career? Did you wake up one day and just decide, "I want to work with sharks"?
Gretchen: I actually don’t remember. I’ve been wanting to do this my entire life. My parents said that pretty much ever since I could talk that’s all I ever wanted to do was sharks. I don’t remember one specific thing that made me want to do this but ever since I found about it, it’s all I’ve ever focused on.
GL: Did you have any specific school training that you had to go through?
Gretchen: I was going to school for marine biology and I did two years of my degree. I ended up coming here to work and got the job that I was going to school for, so I was very lucky that I was able to find the right place and the right company at the right time.
GL: What's a typical day like? What does it involve?
Gretchen: Well this [the Sharks Deep Dive] is a big part of our job.The main part of what we do is actually working with the people and getting the people acquainted with animals. Another big thing is observation. We’re really the only ones that stay up here all the time, so [you get] a chance to watch the sharks, you get to kind of know their behaviors, what to look for, it's really good because if anything happens that’s different we know right away.
We can look at that animal, and go, "OK, we’re going to keep a close eye on this shark because he’s not reacting the way he normally does." And we help out with other things, we do help out with cleaning, feeding, we just had our physicals last week that we helped out with.
GL: How many times a day do you actually go in the tank?
Gretchen: It just depends. Some days I won’t go at all, and other days I’ll do up to three dives, we usually split the day up.
GL: What do you think your favorite part is of this job?
Gretchen: My favorite part is watching somebody come up from the dive who is hesitant about the sharks or is not quite sure, and watching them come out with an amazing smile on their face. I’m so happy, I’m so excited, they got over their fear and they realized these are really incredible creatures. That’s the best part. It’s amazing.
GL: Any challenges? What's the hardest part of this job?
Gretchen: There’s not really a lot of hard parts. The thing is trying to get people over the myth that sharks are dangerous.
It’s a very big struggle. Shark populations have been decimated over the last few years. It’s really important for us to try to get that perception changed. That’s the biggest obstacle that we face, is we’ll get people who are like, “I’m terrified of the sharks,” and then they’ll be like, “Well I’ll go jump in with the dolphins.” We get that kind of thing where the reality is they are not really as dangerous, it’s just what you see.
Think SeaWorld's Sharks Deep Dive is right up your ally? Head to seaworld.com/orlando for more info!
BLOG IT OUT! Do you love sharks? Would you ever dive with them? What's your dream job?
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