Chris Rickard is an aquarium assistant, recently promoted to aquarist, at Macduff Marine Aquarium.
He has been a part of the aquarium team for many years and is also a Scuba diving enthusiast, keen underwater photographer and advocate for the protection and conservation of Scottish species and habitats.
Most mornings at the aquarium begin with prepping the food that will be fed out to the exhibits for the day. While it’s not exactly the same task each day, as the tanks are fed on a rota, the task consists of preparing various quantities of frozen squid, mackerel, shrimp and mussels.
If you have visited the aquarium, then chances are you have seen a Touch Pool Talk. Here you can see a variety of echinoderms (members of the starfish and urchin family) on my tray.
A couple of times a year, we dive locally in Macduff to collect kelp for the aquarium’s main exhibit tank, the Kelp Reef. It’s a great site for a shore dive!
A big part of my job is looking out for our animals’ welfare, and that involves keeping an eye on all our residents, including this edible crab, which moulted.
The smaller crab shown in the image is actually the crab’s now empty shell, called at cast or moult. The actual crab, now much larger after having shed its old shell or exoskeleton, is now in a soft shell state and will be placed in a tank on its own to keep it safe until its new shell hardens.
My pal, Lauren Smith, and I spend as much time as possible searching for signs of sharks, skate and rays around Scotland’s coastline. We have started a Facebook page called Shark and Skate Citizen Science Scotland trying to gather as many sightings as possible from across Scotland, with a current focus on the critically endangered flapper skate.
Here we have found a flapper purse (eggcase) on the beach at Spey Bay.