Q&A With Aquarium Curator John Seyjagat!

Published March 04, 2013

by John Seyjagat, Curator of Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes

marjorie lynn banks lecture series

Tomorrow night (March 5) kicks off our annual Marjorie Lynn Bank Lecture Series! The first lecture features John Seyjagat, curator of our Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit! To give you a sneak preview of tomorrow night's talk, we sat down with John to get an inside look at his day-to-day work at the Aquarium:

  1. How long have you been at the Aquarium? About 10 years.
  2. How did you get your current position? I started as a consultant to the Exhibit and Design team back in 2002, and when the curator position became available in 2003, I applied and got the position.
  3. Describe a typical day at work for you… I like getting in to enjoy a period of undisturbed work, so I get in at 6 am. I do prep work and get ready to meet my staff at 7:30 am. By 8 am, it is time to work with staff and assist with any animal matters. By 9 am, the exhibit is open and ready to receive the public. At 10 am, our volunteer staff arrives. I give them their daily update and the tools necessary to wow our visitors. In the early afternoon, I again meet with staff for updates and firm up the afternoon routine. Most of my afternoons are dedicated to Biological Programs staff meetings or bigger projects related to the Australia exhibit. By 3 pm, I've met with my late shift staff for updates and briefings and planned their night. Even when I leave the Aquarium for the night, I am on my pager 24/7 just in case. That's a non-hectic, good day!
  4. What’s your favorite spot within the Australia exhibit? The area in front of the Barramundi. The barramundis in the exhibit are all in the range of 9–10 years of age. When they arrived at the Aquarium, they were less than 12 inches long!

    The barramundi in our Australia exhibit!

  5. If you could trade places professionally with anyone in the world, who would it be and why? Sir David Attenborough. I worked with him on two films and was able to talk extensively with him during both projects. I learned so much about zoo-geography. The guy is as brilliant as he sounds!
  6. What is your favorite animal and why? Edentates (mammals that have little to no teeth, such as the sloth) and the silky anteater. This is the animal that dragged me into the zoo world. I was one of two people in the world who kept silky anteaters and wanted to learn more about them. Sloths are part of the edante mammal order!

    Sloths are part of the edentate mammal order.

  7. What’s one thing very few people know about the Australia exhibit? Its state of the art mechanics can be controlled from a computer or cell phone from anywhere in the world!
  8. Any exciting upcoming projects or research you can tell us about? The mouth almighty is the only freshwater cardinalfish in the world and is found in northern Australia and New Guinea. This fish may be the origin of all cardinalfish species, including the endangered Banggai cardinalfish. We are currently partnering with the New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences to research the evolutionary biology of this species group to hopefully make a linkage to the origin of all cardinalfish.
Want to know more about our Australia exhibit and John's exciting work? Join us tomorrow for his lecture in Baltimore!

All lectures are free for Aquarium donors; $5 for members; and $10 for non-members. Reservations required: 410-659-4230. A light reception will be held at 6:45 pm, followed by the curator's talk in the Lyn P. Meyerhoff Auditorium.

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John Seyjagat

Curator of Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes

National Aquarium - John Seyjagat

About John Seyjagat

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