At Day's End, She Remembers To Say Tanks For the Memories

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At Day's End, She Remembers To Say Tanks For the Memories

"I work in an aquarium. I take care of the fish there," Chang Yu-jin, 25, says of her job at the COEX Aquarium in Samseong-dong (

Korea's largest aquarium opened in April, covering 14,200 square meters. In terms of the scale and the number and variety of species on exhibition, it is a world-class aquarium. Approximately 40,000 oceanic creatures, comprised of 600 species, awe spectators with their graceful bodies and dazzling colors.

Behind the numerous tanks, it takes the work of many dedicated fish fanciers to take care of the many fish. There are 13 men and women aquarists at the COEX Aquarium, ranging in age from their early-20s to mid-30s. Ms. Chang is just one of those fish guardians.

She started working there in February, managing the tropical fish sections until last month when she moved to the quarantine tanks.

There are approximately 90 exhibition tanks and 130 quarantine tanks at the aquarium. The exhibition tanks hold the fish on view to the public, while the quarantine tanks are for treating sick fish.

Ms. Chang applies ointment to their wounds and gives injections - whatever they need. Feeding the submarine critters twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon, is also part of the daily tasks of an aquarist. Ms. Chang says that her tropical fish prefer well-minced ocean shrimp.

She pays special attention to fish who move too slowly or shy away from the other fish. "The fish are most lovely when they eat well," she says. "When they get sick frequently and refuse to eat, even after getting some extra care, it really upsets me. They sometimes make me cry."

To be an aquarist, one must major in fishery science, oceanic life or ichthyology in college. Ms. Chang graduated from the Department of Aquaculture at Bukyong National University in Busan, formerly known as Busan Fisheries College. Aquariums are open year- round, so there is little vacation time for an aquarist. Ms. Chang has not been able to visit her home in Busan during holidays.

"Fish are sensitive and therefore are often under stress," she says. "It would be helpful if the spectators did not pound the walls of the tanks in order to see the fish's reactions."

by Sung Si-yoon

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