Monday, April 5, 2010

Buffing and Gluing and Seining, Oh My!

After months of polishing tanks, designing exhibits and collecting animals, the Marine Exhibit is finally open!!

The month of February and the first week of March were spent slowly buffing scratches out of the inside of the acrylic tanks using 6 different grits of sandpaper and two different liquid grits. This was a slow process; each scratch can take up to an hour, depending on its size and depth. Since these scratches were inside the tanks and weren’t all at eye level, it took some creativity to get a correct position and a good view of the scratch.
Jess and I buffing the piling tank

Jess curled up in the cluster tank to be at eye level with the scratch

After all the major scratches were buffed out, we used a special attachment on a power drill to polish the inside and outside of the tanks to give them a finished look. Once the acrylic was done, we moved onto the stainless steel bases of the tanks and, with the help of two awesome volunteers, buffed all the rust off the steel using synthetic steel wool and a liquid grit.
Using the power drill to polish the inside of the piling tank

Heather, Jess and I then designed habitats in our newly finished tanks using rocks, wood, superglue and wood pilings. The challenge with designing exhibits is that you want them to be visually appealing, but also stable enough to allow us clean without causing them to fall apart. With the wood we used, we had to make sure it wouldn’t float when water was added. It took some trial and error, but we eventually mastered those designs!
Jess and Heather carefully stacking basalt rocks

Jess and I supergluing clumps of mussels onto the pilings

Finally, it was time to collect animals and start filling these shiny tanks with water! We used several different collection methods including snorkeling, pulling mussels off docks, seining, and tide-pooling. From these methods we collected mussels, crabs, sea cucumbers, tube worms, tubesnouts, pipefish, sticklebacks, clingfish, anemones, hermit crabs, nudibranchs, sea stars, several species of sculpins and more. The animals were placed in their new habitats and we were finally ready to open.!
Valerie, Jess and I getting ready to snorkel under the pier

A longfin sculpin we collected at the marina

Thanks to the 366 people that visited on Opening Weekend, especially those who braved the wind on Friday to come on Opening Day!

Come check out our new animals Friday-Sunday, 12-4pm.

Marine Exhibit Education Coordinator

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