Lead Aquarist

Organization: SEA Life Aquarium - Legolaaand California Resort
Location: Carlsbad, CA, us
Job or Internship:

Reports To:



SEA LIFE Operations – Displays Team

Job Classification:


  Position Summary and Scope:  The Lead Aquarist assists the Curator with the management, organization and continued development of the displays team to achieve consistently high standards of display presentation and animal husbandry in accordance with all SEA LIFE policies, procedures and protocols.  The Lead Aquarist works along side the displays team to assist with the required routine maintenance of all aquarium displays and husbandry related issues.


General Responsibilities:


  • Assist the Curator with the management and oversight of all husbandry and life support of aquarium systems while ensuring a consistently high standard of animal care and displays presentation throughout all public and behind the scenes areas.
  • Provide daily care of animal exhibits including diet preparation, feeding and general care and maintenance of aquatic exhibits in accordance with established protocols.
  • Ensure that correct levels of livestock and key species are maintained in all displays through the development and updating of livestock requests.
  •  Participate in specimen transports, water quality testing, quarantine, diagnosis and treatment of fish disease.
  • Maintain accurate daily records for aquarium systems and exhibit specimens. Interact with guests, management, veterinarians and other individuals as required.
  • Assist in the supervision of day-to-day activities of all aquarists and divers; directing exhibit maintenance, animal husbandry practices, setting aquarist work schedules, and assisting with department budget planning and spending.
  •  Assist in the continual development and strategic planning of the displays areas in line with the long term goals of the company.

 Key Expectations and Responsibilities:




  •  To work to a level that is equal to or surpasses the guidelines set in the company minimum standards document for displays.
  • To communicate and liaise with Curator, Veterinarian(s) and Biological Services, as directed, in regards to animal health matters.
  • To communicate and liaise with Curator and Biological Services, as directed, in regards to all animal acquisitions and transfers between sites.
  •  To communicate and liaise with Curator and Biological Services, as directed, in regards to life support system issues.
  • To ensure effective planning and implementation of routine maintenance of displays and life support systems in accordance with company and manufacturers guidelines.
  •  To maintain strict codes of practise for the administration and storage of all medical treatments.
  • To ensure that accurate and up to date displays records, are complete for all displays and livestock, including deliveries, collections, mortalities, feeding and associated matters.
  • To carry out the routine maintenance of the life support and emergency systems relating to site base and other specified displays and the maintenance of all life support related alarm systems (where applicable).
  •  To ensure and maintain continually high levels of cleanliness of all the displays, quarantine and food preparation areas, plus associated plant and workshops.
  • To assist with the maintenance and planned development of displays lighting, signage and interactive displays.



  •  To ensure that the statutory regulations of California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) are maintained for displays and display areas (front and back of house).
  • To adhere to all AZA standards or equivalent regulations and ensure that the aquarium maintains such standards.
  • To ensure that all licenses / regulations associated with livestock acquisition (i.e. California F&G, USFW), holding, display and transportation, are met and adhered to.
  • To ensure displays budgets are operated within monthly and yearly constraints.
  •  To assist the Curator in the generation of the annual displays budgets.
  • To assist the Curator in the generation of annual capital expenditure requests and operation within these budgets once granted.


Displays Development





  • To initiate and continually update the displays development plan for the site.
  • To assist the Curator in the generation and implementation of a three year site plan.
  • To play a key role in any displays related capital works from concept creation through to completion and continual operation, as directed by the Curator.
  • To carry out and/or oversee any specific research and development projects to improve animal husbandry and the onsite displays as directed by the Curator.

Staff Supervision/Development  

  • To work with the displays staff and site team to ensure the smooth operation of all exhibit areas and behind the scenes areas.
  •  To motivate and train the displays staff on the local site, through liaison with relevant departments.
  • To ensure high levels of communication between the displays, site management and biological services.
  • To assist the Curator with the organization and monitoring of display staff schedules, ensuring that they are within budgetary constraints while at the same time ensuring there is adequate cover of the aquarium at all times.
  • To ensure that the entire displays team adheres to all customer care initiatives as specified by the company.

Additional Responsibilities:


 As directed by the Curator additional responsibilities may be given that relate to the local site or company operation.  Such responsibilities may include but are not limited to:


  • Work outside normal scheduled hours (i.e. weekend days, holidays, special events, after hour animal emergencies).
  • Travel to and temporary work at other sites.  

Weighted Job Function:

Care, maintenance, and health of animal collection, display quality and appearance, care and maintenance of company owned property and equipment – 60% 

  1. Managerial and administrative functions, safety and supervision of others – 40%

Position requirements:

Education and Experience    

  •  Undergraduate degree in Life Sciences
  • Minimum five years experience of aquatic animal care in a professional aquarium environment.
  • Advanced open water SCUBA certification with a Rescue Certification Preferred. 
  • Advanced Life Support System skills

Skills and Knowledge


  • Proven knowledge of the maintenance and operation of large life support systems including, but not limited to, sand filters, canister filters, UV sterilizers, protein skimmers, and ozone generators. 
  • SCUBA diving skills:  advanced underwater exhibit maintenance skills, advanced open-water diving and animal collection skills.
  •  Advanced knowledge and experience working with a wide variety of tropical and temperate marine and freshwater specimens including, but not limited to, sharks, rays, jellies, corals, seahorses, cephalopods, and turtles.
  • Advanced knowledge and experience in the quarantine, diagnosis and treatment of fish disease.
  • Strong water quality testing and record keeping skills
  • Ability to supervise the work of others, with at least two years supervisory experience.
  • Proven knowledge and skill in aquarium displays set-up and development is desirable including, but not limited to LSS design and installation, exhibit collection planning, and aquarium theming concepts. 
  •  Proven leadership, communication (verbal and written) and organizational skills
  • Ability and willingness to communicate effectively in public forums to aquarium guests is preferred.

 Additional Requirements


  • Willingness and ability to adhere to company employee guidelines (i.e.  Merlin Entertainments - SEA LIFE policies and LLC Model Citizen’s Guide)
  • Ability to maintain a clean/organized work environment.
  • Ability to work effectively with limited or no supervision, and maintain a work ethic supporting the Aquarium’s mission and goals.
  • Ability to obtain and hold a current First Aid and CPR certification.
  •  Ability to obtain and hold valid California Driver’s License.

All applicants apply online at www.LEGOLAND.com/jobs or email Tracie Hogencamp directly at tracie.hogencamp@legoland.com