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Meet Kate the Curator!

  • Wednesday 1st July 2020


Meet Kate the Curator!

Ever wondered what it’s like to work in an aquarium? We asked our Displays Curator Kate Willson about her incredible role caring for thousands of marine creatures here at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast.

What is your role and have you done any other roles at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast?

I am the Curator of the aquarium which means I am responsible for the well-being of over 3500 animals as well as the humans who ensure our animals are safe, healthy and thriving here at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast. Before becoming the Curator, I worked in almost every aspect of the business including customer service, education, functions, retail and photography before moving into the animal care roles where I started as a junior aquarist and worked my way up to my current position as Curator.

How long have you worked at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast?

I have been with the aquarium since November 2003, which is over 16 years ago! Time flies!

What do you do in an average day?

LOL an average day… there is no average day for me! Anything could happen and there are often surprises awaiting us in the morning. Although my role now has me away from the aquarium floor more than I would like, I still get involved with the daily care of the animals, even if it is a sneaky shark feed or food preparation, life support repairs and maintenance. Then I am back in the office planning new displays, managing budgets, attending meetings, ensuring our guest, staff and animal safety is not compromised as well as supporting and mentoring my team of aquarists.

Do you work with any interesting technology?

We have just acquired a new ultrasound machine from Clarius, which allows us to check up on the internal health of animals in a non-invasive way. It enables us to see if sea creatures are pregnant or have any internal injuries. 

What is your favourite animal?

This is a tough one to answer as I love so many different animals for different reasons. One of my favourite animals is the sea jelly (also known as jellyfish) as I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. They were the first creatures I cared for as a junior aquarist. They taught me great husbandry skills, which I went on to utilise with many other sensitive species.

My second favourite is the Grey Nurse Shark! I have been fortunate to feed them and get as close to them as possible. I have also raised a pup, transported and relocated several Grey Nurse Sharks, dived with them while they were breeding (which is a super rare experience!), wrote a scientific paper on my breeding observations and travelled internationally to crack the code on how to breed the species more successfully in the wild!

Why do you love working with animals?

Working with animals brings a calmness and happiness to me that I can’t describe! Caring for them and educating our guests, especially kids, on the important role they play in our ecosystem is an honour and privilege. Let’s face it, it is a dream job and I got to be the kid who achieved it.

What is a conservation message you would like to share that will help protect our animals’ wild relatives?

Every little bit helps! Whether you recycle, use a keep cup, clean the beach/national park/river when you are out and about, try to do what you can to help preserve and repair our world. It is a precious place and we all need to do our bit to preserve it for future generations.

Is there anything else interesting that you would like to share?

I have a side business called You’ve Got This Life! I am a CERT IV Business and Personal Development coach or as I prefer to call myself a life tutor! I support and assist people to achieve their goals and dreams no matter how big or small so they can live the life they have always wanted. If you are looking for some help check out my FB page @kate.youvegotthislife