Photo by: Jordann Tomasek, Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium Welcomes María Fernandez from Gran Acuario Mazatlán


This month, Birch Aquarium is hosting María Fernandez from Gran Acuario Mazatlán in Mazatlán, Mexico. Gran Acuario Mazatlán is the largest aquarium in Mexico and focuses on animals local to the Sea of Cortez. The aquarium just completed a massive renovation, reopening to the public in May 2023. María joined the team there last spring after graduating with a degree in Biology. She is spending a month with Birch Aquarium as part of the volunteer program, working with the Husbandry Team. 

Can you tell us a little about your job at Gran Acuario Mazatlán? What are some of the things you do? 
I work in the animal nutrition area. We are in charge of creating the diets for all aquatic animals like fish, sharks, sea turtles, rays and more!

What do you love about your job? 
I love that I get to be close to the animals and interact with them daily. I also like to see people come and learn more about the ocean and what lives in it so that they get more passionate about climate change, conservation and nature. 

What drew you to an exchange with Birch Aquarium? 
The Gran Mazatlán Aquarium opened less than a year ago so I wanted to volunteer at another aquarium and learn things from a different perspective. This includes how different tasks are handled and organized, learning different protocols, studying feeding and cleaning schedules and more. When doing my research I came across Birch Aquarium and discovered that they have more than 30 years of experience plus a seahorse breeding program that I’m excited to learn more about since we have seahorses in the aquarium back home.

What do you hope to learn while at Birch Aquarium?
I would love to learn a little bit of everything, including tank maintenance, food prep, feeding, life support systems, seahorse breeding, supplements, enrichment and organization of staff. 

What is your favorite ocean animal and why? 
I love orcas and find them super fascinating. What I like most is how intelligent they are, how they have hierarchy within the pods, how they teach the young their hunting strategies, how family oriented they are and how they work together.

What do you do when you aren’t working at the aquarium? What do you do for fun? 
I love to go on walks by the beach, go to restaurants to try new foods and spend time with family and friends.

Thanks so much to María for taking the time to chat with us! And thank you to our Volunteer and Husbandry teams for working to make this partnership happen! Learn more about volunteering with Birch Aquarium on our website