Ocean Career: Seattle Aquarium Associate Curator Tropical Team

The Seattle Aquarium, a leading marine conservation organization, is looking for an Associate Curator, Tropical Team to join the Tropical Fish & Invertebrate Team. The Associate Curator of Tropical Fish and Invertebrates is accountable to direct animal care staff and manage the care of the Seattle Aquarium’s tropical fish, invertebrate, and plant populations. This position helps to oversee a team of nineteen full-time employees and two part-time employees across three distinct work areas. The Associate Curator is responsible for helping maintain a budget of about $1,700,000.

Key functions:

To provide direction and management for Tropical Team staff at the Seattle Aquarium, in line with the Aquarium’s mission statement and S.A.L.I.S.H. values. This is a hands-on position that includes diving, life support system maintenance, and working directly with the animals regularly in addition to supervisory, management, and administrative functions. The Associate Curator is responsible for all aspects of the care and management of the Aquarium’s tropical fish, invertebrate, and plant populations and the supervision of staff engaged in animal care. These duties include but are not limited to:

Supervision and Management (60%):

  • Value and prioritize the Aquarium’s commitment to advancing conversations, programs, and policies supporting our DEI and S.A.L.I.S.H. values. Help create space for meaningful team discussions and support staff participation on DEI focused projects. 
  • Work closely with Supervisors and Curator to ensure direction and training of staff align with Tropical Team priorities and the Aquarium’s S.A.L.I.S.H. and D.E.I. values. 
  • Build and lead a high-performing team, fostering a culture of collaboration and communication, staff wellbeing, and accountable management in the team environment.  
  • Serve as a mentor for Tropical Team staff. Prioritize staff training, enrichment, and professional development opportunities for staff at all levels across the team.
  • Provide direct supervision for Tropical Team Supervisors and Senior Aquarists.  Direct daily work, conduct annual performance reviews, work on goal setting.
  • Lead the hiring, onboarding, and training Supervisor and Sr. Aquarist level positions.
  • Support Tropical Team Supervisors as they hire, onboard, and train Aquarist-level staff.
  • Communicate team and Aquarium-wide projects and priorities to Tropical Team Supervisors to help them anticipate staffing needs and maintain the monthly staffing schedule.
  • Assist the Curator and Registrar in obtaining permits required to possess, transport, import, and export plants and animals. Help ensure that permit conditions met are always maintained.
  • Establish and implement written animal care and life support operation protocols for all habitats to ensure the highest standards for water quality, operational efficiency, cleanliness, and animal care.
  • Work openly and collaboratively with Life Sciences Department Curatorial staff to ensure Aquarium policies and procedures are upheld consistently and equitably across the Department.  
  • Coordinate, plan, and execute the Life Sciences aspects of special events and represent Life Sciences in appropriate planning meetings and committees.
  • Represent the Tropical Team and/or Life Sciences Department on internal and external calls and meetings. Present to small or large groups of internal or external stakeholders.
  • Establish and maintain collaborative and respectful effective working relationships with Aquarium staff & volunteers, community partners, and industry colleagues.
  • Support the Curator to plan and maintain the Tropical Team budget.
  • Serve as a customer service liaison through daily contacts with visitors providing information and answering questions.
  • Act as institutional representative in AZA and other professional organizations.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Animal Care (35%):

  • Work collaboratively with team Supervisors to lead daily animal care operations, communicate team goals and priorities, and delegate and assign work as necessary.
  • Support and oversee the work of Supervisor and Sr. Aquarist staff responsible for leading animal and plant acquisition, acclimation, and quarantine.
  • Lead and/or assist with administration of medications and treatments according to established procedures and veterinary instructions. Provide assistance and aid in handling or restraining animals in accordance with established safety procedures as necessary to ensure animal welfare.
  • Serve as a primary point of contact for staff questions, LSS alarms, and animal emergencies. This will involve occasional response outside normal working hours.
  • Work with Veterinary, Curatorial, and Water Quality staff to establish and enforce the highest possible standard for animal health and wellbeing.
  • Conduct routine Aquarist-level animal care and habitat maintenance tasks as required.

Diving Responsibilities (5%):

  • Achieve and maintain “Aquarium Scientific Diver” status in the Aquarium’s diving program within one year of hire. The “Aquarium Scientific Diver” classification allows for participation in surface-supplied and open-circuit diving as a diver within Seattle Aquarium animal habitats only.
  • Use SCUBA and surface-supplied air systems within Aquarium animal habitats to conduct animal care and exhibit maintenance tasks and interact with Aquarium guests.
  • Support diving activities within the Aquarium by serving as a surface tender or Designated Person in Charge (DPIC) for staff or volunteer divers.

Staff and Animal Safety:

  • Ensure Tropical Team staff understand and comply with Aquarium safety protocols.
  • Ensure the safety of Aquarium animals, employees, volunteers, and guests from injury or mishap.
  • Perform emergency first aid and CPR as needed and according to established guidelines.

Required skills and experience:

We will consider various combinations of relevant experience and education to meet minimum requirements.

  • B.A./B.S. degree in biology, marine biology, or related field an advantage.
  • Minimum of four years’ experience, preferably demonstrating progressively responsible duties, involving animal care and team leadership in an aquarium or related environment with at least one of these years working in a supervisory or leadership role. (AZA facility preferred).
  • Must be able to obtain CPR, first aid, and AED certifications.
  • Must have or be able to obtain a Washington State Driver’s License.
  • Demonstrated experience leading or supervising staff working in an animal care environment. Strong organizational skills, self-motivation, and the ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing are critical.
  • A technical knowledge of fish and invertebrate biology, water quality analysis, aquatic life support systems, and marine animal health. Experience working with coral and large elasmobranchs care highly preferred.
  • Able to impart appropriate judgment and self-reflection when making decisions and commit to an action on the examination of the facts at hand; find creative solutions to situations and opportunities that arise; take strategic risks when necessary.
  • Use basic math skills to quickly and accurately calculate things like water volume, feed amounts, drug dosages.
  • Experience using various computer software products: MS Word, Excel, Tracks (or other animal record keeping software), and internet browsers.
  • Pursuit of continued education, skills, and training expected; remain current on developments in animals care, team leadership, and DEI work both within and outside the organization; maintain proficiencies. Multilingual and multicultural communication skills and experience are preferred.

To qualify for evaluation as a Seattle Aquarium diver, candidates must meet the following general criteria:

  • Possess a scuba certification to the level of rescue diver (or equivalent) from a nationally recognized certification agency.
  • Possess a recent (less than 12 months) approval for recreational scuba diving signed by a physician (MD or DO).
  • Successfully pass an AAUS watermanship requirements swim test.
  • Pass a Seattle Aquarium scuba skills evaluation dive.

In addition, the new staff diver candidate must complete and pass the following aquarium diver physical exam, training classes and deadlines:

  • Pass a Seattle Aquarium occupational diving physical exam.
  • Complete emergency oxygen provider training within six months of hire.
  • Complete staff exhibit diver training and evaluation within six months of hire.

Working conditions:

  • Requires handling, working with or exposure to large, dangerous animals, animal diseases, feces, and toxic chemicals.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is required to stand; walk; sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools or controls; reach with hands and arms; climb stairs; balance; stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl; talk or hear; taste or smell.
  • Specific vision abilities required by the job include close vision, distance vision, color and peripheral vision, depth perception, and the ability to adjust focus.
  • Occasionally required to lift more than 50 pounds.
  • Able to spend six or more hours a day engaged in active, physical work.
  • Required to work outdoors year-round, near water, on wet and slippery surfaces and at heights.
  • Safely operate forklifts, scissor lifts, boom lifts, motorized pallet jacks, and cranes with Aquarium-provided training.
  • Safely operate a variety of vehicles including the small cars and trucks owned by the Aquarium and rental flatbed and box and trucks (up to 30’ bed length).
  • Must be willing to work evenings, nights, weekends, holidays, and occasional 24-hr shifts to accommodate routine Aquarium operations, business related travel, scheduled Aquarium events, and animal and building emergencies.

Salary: $76,000-$80,000, yearly.

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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