Meet our Senior Biologist and Diver, Emma Whittle

23rd May 2019


Emma Whittle

Job Title:

Senior Biologist / Diver

How long have you been working at the NMA?

18 months

What did you do before you started working at the NMA?

Displays Supervisor at SeaLife Manchester

What’s a typical day like in your job role / department?

There is no such thing as a typical day! We are always busy and on our feet, checking all the animals are healthy, the life support systems are working as they should, completing all the feeds and carrying out daily maintenance like siphoning the tanks and cleaning the glass of the tanks. We culture live food, test water chemistry, offer enrichment to our animals, complete animal observations, weigh our animals when needed, and spend hours preparing all their food.

What’s the most exciting project you are working on currently?

I have been helping refurbish the Ocean Drifters jellyfish exhibit. This involved removing all the old tanks and the walls, all the plumbing for the life support systems and starting it all again from scratch. We have moved away from one large system to three smaller systems; one in our lab area where we breed all our jellyfish, one tropical system for warm water jellyfish and one temperate system for colder water jellyfish.

What’s the most exciting NMA project you have been involve with in the past?

Last July I participated in the BIAZA Jellyfish Focus Group Field Trip, where we practised invitro fertilisation of wild jellyfish for new polyp cultures. The aim of this trip was to increase the genetic diversity of our stock polyps, mainly Aurelia aurita, but also for new species such as Chrysaora hysoscella and Cyanea lamarckii.

What qualifications or special skills and experience do you bring to the NMA?

I have a degree in Marine Biology plus several years’ experience in commercial aquariums. Having worked at a variety of different aquariums I have been able to bring new approaches to the team. I have successfully bred three different species of seahorse and worked on several elasmobranch stud books.

What are you looking forward to in 2019?

Finishing the Ocean Drifters exhibit and continuing to breed new, different species of jellyfish.

What do you love the most about working at the NMA?

My favourite part of the job is diving in the exhibits. While an essential part of the job to keep the tanks clean and monitoring the animals, it’s also great fun!

What’s your favourite creature at the NMA and why?

My favourite creature is our beautiful spot-finned porcupinefish, which goes by the name of Pongo. He is a very large porcupinefish and is incredibly gentle and charismatic.

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