Most Aquarium staff members are drawn to a particular animal because of its unique physical features. But there’s more to the fish doctor (Gymnelus viridis) than its “cute, little face,” according to Jon Maciver, Visitor Experience and Admissions Coordinator. He nominated it for Staff Pick of the Month.
Jon first noticed this fish while working a sleepover with children from BC Children’s Hospital. “I overheard a young boy say, ‘Dad, they have a fish doctor. Even the Aquarium has doctors to watch over me at nighttime.’” Jon’s heart melted after hearing this conversation, and he has enjoyed watching this fish ever since.
While there’s some speculation about how this animal came to be known as a “fish doctor,” the definitive reason it got this name was lost along the way since being scientifically described in 1780.
Fish doctors are primarily an Arctic species, though they have been observed as far south as Nova Scotia. They generally live among seaweed in shallower waters. Their diet consists of tiny crabs and shrimps (crustaceans), worms and clams.
Jon swings by to see the fish doctors in the Canada’s Arctic exhibit at least twice a week, but he’s not always successful in spotting them. “Some days, they’re impossible to see because they hide very well.” How nice it was, then, that a fish doctor was out on the night of the sleepover for a little boy to enjoy.
Written by Karen Glanzberg, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.