“What’s your advice for someone who wants to become a marine mammal trainer?”
“Definitely volunteer, so you can really know what it’s like behind the scenes.”
Marine mammal training is not as glamorous as it seems. Sure, the marine mammal staff get lots of face time with the Pacific white-sided dolphins, belugas and harbour porpoises (among other animals), but Leonora Marquez, a senior marine mammal trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium, says there is more to her job than that. It can be a physically demanding role that requires trainers to be outside in all sorts of weather, and they have to be able to deliver interpretive talks on microphone during some of the programs.
Leonora suggests getting hands-on experience as a volunteer or intern at a facility like the Aquarium to learn about the day-to-day operations of caring for marine mammals. On top of that, she also suggests working towards a science degree at university. Leonora studied marine biology before going on to work with marine mammals in her native Mexico.
Leonora knew since she was eight that she wanted to become a marine mammal trainer. After seeing marine mammal staff in action during a childhood aquarium visit – “I said ‘I’m going to do that one day.’”
Learn more about marine mammal training and other Aquarium careers during the Ask the Staff program taking place daily during Vancouver Aquarium Up Close, a special feature exhibit on now until April 30.