Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Starting the goodbyes - goodbye cute little lumpfish!

I have three days left of work. If you've read this blog before you'll know that my job is a huge part of who I am. I've been working at a public aquarium for over twelve years and have taken care of many of its animals for over ten years now. I can't even begin to go into how much I'm going to miss my coworkers, they are a second family to me. It's hard not to get close to someone when you work with them often wearing nothing more than a thin wetsuit!

I'm comforted knowing that my human friends are a quick email, phone call or visit away. But the animals are a different story. Will they know I'm gone? Probably not. The birds might react to me during a visit with familiarity but they won't mope like a dog missing its human companion. Yet, I will miss the animals immensely.

I really love bratty animals. The more personality the better. I've cared for jellyfish for about five years now and, despite their beauty, they bore me. The shorebirds and a few fish species are another matter. One of my favorite fish is a lumpfish, and I've been very fortunate to have worked with dozens over the years. I mean, look at this fish, don't you just want to squeeze her?
Ok, so I'm a bit of a fish-geek. The average reader might be thinking, "no, I definitely do NOT want to squeeze a fish!" But trust me when I say most of my coworkers and interns think we should sell stuffed animal versions of lumpfish in our gift shop. Once you work with them and see their cute little personalities you will most assuredly want to cuddle with one.

They have a modified ventral fin that's evolved into a suction cup so they can stick to rocks and kelp in the intertidal zone, keeping them stable in the surge. Believe it or not they seem like a happy puppy to me. You can pick them up with your bare hands and place them on your palm and they just sit there, mouthing the air, looking for food. You can actually train them too as one of our marine mammal trainers did last winter. They will eat out of your hands and come over, I swear wagging their tails, when they see a staff member approaching in our ubiquitous green uniform shirts.

I will introduce you to more of my favorite animals over the weeks to come as a form of therapy for me while I adjust to full time mommyhood. It will be a joy to go through my iphoto files and reminisce over the fun aquatic personalities I have known over the years.

If you're interested in learning more about what I do you can read my shorebirds blog at neaq.org.


  1. Yep sad to say goodbye to something that you have loved for a long time, but when something is more worthwhile after it then you have to let it go, and keep all memories in the treasure chest. The fishes are all cute and looked very innocent Kate. Do you think they know you're are leaving?

    BTW Kate, we have a found a lost turtle on the street during the last weeks flood, would you know what they eat? I don't have any idea, I don't have plans of keeping it, instead I'm going to the lake this weekend and free it. Do you think it will survive there?


  2. AL: I doubt they know I'm leaving, which is good I guess :) When I came back from my five month maternity leave the birds seemed relaxed around me, when they meet a stranger they're agitated, so they must have remembered me!

    If you have a chance, take a photo of your turtle and email it to me @ katebanks75@gmail.com. I can try to ID it for you. Generally most turtles eat whatever they can find: worms, bugs, vegetable matter. I bet it would eat table scraps! Try some lettuce first and some garden insects. I'm about 100% positive it will be very happy in your lake :) You're a very good person to rescue it!

  3. I don't really care for fish or the ocean. I like the edges of the ocean but to be in it just isn't my thing but you've made me want a pet lump fish now. Do they get along with cats?

  4. Come on, Kate. I can't really believe that FISH have personalities like puppies. Or am I all wet? (that was lame but it made me laugh)

    I like the pictures, and I'm hoping you'll be sure to put all your faves up here so I can learn about them. It sounds like a fish story to me. :-)

  5. Hi Kate, thank you for the information. I have already sent a photo of the turtle.

  6. I love hearing about the lumpfish. I am a sucker for any kind of wildlife. In the water or out. I know I would like holding your lumpfish. We had a goldfish that grew to be about 6 inches long. I use to talk to it like an idiot. I can only imagine myself in your aquarium. I could have quite a conversation there.
    Hope you enjoy this new freedom time ahead of you. It will be so nice to have more time with Lizzie.

  7. hi there! i find it interesting how you think fish have personalities. true for some fish that is, like the lumpfish in the pic. to be honest, i find fish as boring pets.

  8. I didn't know the lumpish until you just introduced me - now I want some of my own!

  9. How will we ever hear about lumpfish again if you finish this job? Where are you going??? Yes - I too would adopt a lumpfish if there was an orphan one around...

  10. I'm new here. The lumpfish IS cute. When I was a kid my mom had a saltwater tank - some yellow tang, and her favorite creature, a sea urchin. No eyes, no fishy tail, but that sea urchin KNEW she was there watching. Anyway, great site, I'll be back for more fishies. hugs from Hundewanderer.

  11. RT: I have a feeling my cat would ea a lumpfish if got his paws on one, next time you're on business in Boston come by and I'll let you pet one!

    DJan: My next fish to tell you all about is a mandarin fish, REALLY beautiful and playful too. Yes, I think fish can have personalities, but it's pretty clear across species. Some species are fun, some are boring.

    AL: still working on your ID....

    Rae: I have a feeling you could have some great conversations with my animals. You should hear me with my common tern! I must sound like a crazy person!

    smartchic: Many many fish make boring pets, it's true, you can't cuddle most of them. Lumpfish are an exception ;)

    Lulu: next time we have a spare I'll send you one! Just don't go feeding it cake or dragging it to Spain or something....

    Ange: I'll still go play with the lumpfish every once in a while. I'm taking a few years off to be a full time mom, so I'm not going far! I promise to bring you more fish tales.

    Hundewanderer: welcome! Sea urchins are awesome! You are lucky to have grown up with one :)

    Thanks for visiting everyone! -kate

  12. Oh how fun. I love meeting the Lump Fish and seeing him through your eyes. He is a cutie too. Good luck with your transition. I am sure they actually WILL all miss you, even the jellies!

  13. This is fascinating, and what the Internet was always supposed to be about--learning new things, having one's horizons expanded, who would have thought I would be interested in lumpfish?

    But now, am.

    Thanks for a great post!

  14. Bethany and Cow: so glad you enjoyed meeting one of our lumpfish! I'll bring you more cute animals to meet soon! -kate

  15. I find all animals fascinating and that includes your little lumpfish. The last photo showing a close up of its face is just so cute. I can imagine it swimming over, tail wagging, to get a treat.

    Well, I had a pet praying mantis all summer so a lumpfish with a personality makes sense to me.

    Sorry I haven't been over lately, the past week was so busy.

  16. SQ: I swear he DOES wag his tail! i am so jealous of your praying mantis pet that you had all summer in your planter. None of mine survived, at least that I can tell, I'm going to look for egg cases today. No worries about not visiting, I have been equally as swamped and plan a big blog catch-up today, including your sites :)


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