18 Jun 2012, Posted by admin in Uncategorized, No Comments. Tagged Cincinnati, historian, journalism, marine biologist, multimedia, New Media Bureau, Newport, Newport Aquarium, Studs Terkel, Tr, University of Cincinnati, Working
Scott Brehob, 32, of Mariemont, is an aquatic biologist at the Newport Aquarium. He graduated with a degree in biology from Bowling Green State University.
I grew up in Anderson Township. Went to Turpin High School. Started working here the summer after my senior year. I kind of always wanted to go into some sort of marine biology.
When I was younger my favorite subjects were the sciences. I excelled at them. I wasn’t very good with math, writing, but the sciences and the environmental stuff always just came natural to me.
Every aquarium is kind of different in concept. In our building we have a biologist 1, biologist 2 and biologist 3. You always start as a biologist 1, or you get hired in at a higher level depending on your experience. It’s not even about how long you spend in the job – it is your accomplishments in the job that move you up.
When I was a biologist 1, I had the turtles and gator exhibit. As people left and areas opened up, I took on more responsibility, and I moved up to a biologist 2, working on a bunch of quarantine systems, which is basically taking care of the bigger tanks and overseeing new fish coming into the building.
I have six exhibits and all the quarantine tanks. I have seven species in the shark tank with about 30 (sharks) or so in there and about 50 species of fish. Right now I not only take care of the sharks, but I also look after the venomous reptiles.
The shark rays always have been known as the pandas of the aquarium industry. They are so rare that there are maybe a dozen or so in captivity right now in the whole world. So we do more with those animals as far as physicals and looking at their health and any information we can gain. It is very hands-on. The care these animals require probably makes them one of my favorites.
I’ve been bitten by a number of different things (laughs.) I’ve been bitten by eels a few times. Snakes a couple of times. Nothing venomous. If I’m doing my job correctly, I should never be bitten by venomous animals, just because of the safety precautions that we put in place in the building. I’ve had a couple of close calls.
When we feed the shark rays, they chew on us on a regular basis. If they wanted to, they could easily fractured bone or break bones with a bite, but the times they’ve gotten ahold of me, it is more of a ‘she’s trying to figure out what you are’ bite. So it’s not a full-on pressure. I mean these things can crush lobster shells in their mouth.
My degrees were good, and my classes were good, and they gave me the basis of what I am doing. Working with aquatic animals, it’s not like working with the penguins where you’re feeding and cleaning and just keeping them healthy. You need to know maintenance, you have to know pumps, plumbing.
This is not just a job or a career. It becomes and is a part of your life. I mean, I’m on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If one of my animals dies or isn’t looking good, I get a phone call, and I come down. You really end up living the job.
– Interview by Joshua Wehmann, photos by Amanda Ackerson-Wyllie