Ocean Career: Seattle Aquarium Water Quality Specialist

The water quality specialist performs physical and chemical water quality testing for the Seattle Aquarium seawater systems, auxiliary life support systems, and related research projects. The specialist supports interdepartmental collaboration to troubleshoot water quality and develop new system parameters in support of Life Sciences projects and new exhibitions.

The water quality specialist performs chromatographic, spectrophotometric, and potentiometric analyses, conducts auxiliary water system quality control, works alongside staff, interns, and volunteers in routine chemical analysis procedures, and assists other departments and outside researchers. Water quality data are uploaded to TRACKS and communicated to relevant Aquarium stakeholders.

Key functions:

Responsible for completing accurate and timely water quality tests including, but not limited to:

  • Performs laboratory analyses of Aquarium system water, including physical chemistry parameters (such as pH and dissolved oxygen), nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorous), and bacteriological parameters (such as coliforms and Enterococcus). Techniques utilized include spectrophotometry, titrations, chromatography, and use of handheld meters. Performs sample collection and tank-side water quality assessments throughout the main Aquarium, Animal Care Center, and Ocean Pavilion for marine mammals, birds, fish, and invertebrates.
  • Analyzes and validates water quality data and imports results into TRACKS.
  • Interfaces with other departments and teams, including Facilities, Conservation Programs and Partnerships, and Animal Care teams, to maintain proper water quality parameters in all aquarium systems and to collaborate on projects to further animal care knowledge and/or exhibit design.
  • Performs routine maintenance of laboratory equipment and assists with instrument calibrations.
  • Maintains current chemical inventory, safety data sheet database, laboratory records, and standard operating procedures.
  • Prepares reagents for chemical and bacteriological analyses.
  • Maintains effective quality controls through routine preparation of quality control standards, instrument calibration curves, method detection limit studies, and tracks method accuracy and precision through percent recoveries and relative percent differences.
  • Participates in annual laboratory state accreditation by State of Washington Department of Ecology for nitrite, ammonia, pH, and fecal coliform testing.
  • Assists laboratory staff, volunteers, and interns in collaborative laboratory environment.
  • Acts as role model for compliance with all SA safety protocols, especially with regards to chemical handling and the activities specific to the Pier 60 lab, Animal Care Center water quality area, and associated life support systems.
  • Maintains cooperative and effective working relationships with all Aquarium stakeholders.
  • Participates in safety drills and security response as able when workflow permits.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Required Skills and Experience:

The skills and abilities listed below may be demonstrated through a combination of relevant cultural, traditional practices, community programs, jobs, internships, volunteer experience, and/or formal or informal education.

  • Strong math and chemistry skills required for safe management of chemicals and effective preparation of required reagents and media.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and TRACKS, and ability to analyze, validate, and communicate water quality data and trends.
  • Strong organizational skills, self-motivated, team-oriented, and effective communication skills.
  • Ability to use respirators and other appropriate personal protective equipment such as laboratory coats, safety goggles, and gloves.
  • Embodiment of the Seattle Aquarium’s S.A.L.I.S.H. values and commitment to ethos of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Alignment with the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of our marine environment.
  • Understanding of the chemical, physical, and biological components, and processes of seawater, including marine bacteria, pH, alkalinity, dissolved gases, phosphorus, and the nitrogen cycle.
  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent experience in biology, chemistry, environmental science, hydrology, engineering, or a related field.
  • Two years of laboratory experience as a laboratory technician in an aquarium water quality lab.

Working Conditions:

  • Exposure to large, dangerous animals, animal diseases, feces, and toxic chemicals.
  • Occasionally required to lift more than 30 pounds.
  • Comfort working in or around water.
  • Must be able to perform laboratory analyses in appropriate PPE.
  • Must be able to stand on their feet 4 or more hours a day, be physically active through repetitive physical motions.
  • Must have or be able to obtain a Washington State driver’s license, to operate Aquarium-owned vehicles for travel between working locations.

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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