[Chicago Slices raw: Shedd Aquarium]

SHEDD AQUARIUM: Sr. Aquarist SUSAN KENNEY shows, explains, and feeds snails that are being fed to mollusks with the permission of the U.S. Gov't. One crawls on the camera lens.

00:00Copy video clip URL B-roll, exterior of Shedd Aquarium.

00:08Copy video clip URL Interior of the Aquarium. Videographer is with Susan Kenney, Senior Aquarist, talking about about their plan for the shoot as they walk past exhibits and tanks.

00:49Copy video clip URL B-roll Dangerous Anemones sign and tank. Various shots of the tank, kids, and parents.

01:50Copy video clip URL Two takes of Kenney introducing herself to camera. She talks about how to keep anemones alive (strong lights, 400w, good water quality, keep them at a distance from one another). She tries to make the tank resemble their natural habitat in the Caribbean waters as close as possible. Anemones, she says, are colorful but some are venomous.

04:57Copy video clip URL Kenney says she was accidentally stung once but not seriously. She studied marine invertebrate and biology at the University of Illinois. She volunteered at the aquarium for 3 years before becoming a staff member. She says there’s always something new to learn about marine invertebrate.

05:57Copy video clip URL Kenney comments that all her life she’s been interested in invertebrates and says we can learn a lot about life by looking at how these creatures behave together, their ecology. Many of our exhibits features creatures that are endangered and let the public know of our conservation efforts.

07:33Copy video clip URL Kids and visitors are looking at the Jaw Fish exhibit. Susan explains how these fish burrow into the sand or gravel. When breeding, the males carry the eggs in their mouth where the eggs eventually hatch. They belong to a category of fish called mouthbrooders. The closest land creature to the Jaw Fish is a Mudskipper who lives half the time in water, half out and burrows in the mud. She notes that because Jaw Fish burrow quickly at the first hint of danger, they are hard to capture in the wild.

10:17Copy video clip URL Kenney explains that her responsibilities qualify her as a Jack-of-all-trades: biology, keeping the animals healthy, feeding, cleaning, working with the vet, quarantining new animals, building exhibits, working with rock, concrete, making sketches and models, plumbing and electric for the exhibits.

11:40Copy video clip URL Keney notes that the Jaw Fish are new to the exhibit and therefore in quarantine. She needs to monitor their diet because they will overeat. They eat a mix of grind shrimp and krill.

12:42Copy video clip URL B-roll kids at hermit crab exhibit scavenging for food.

14:10Copy video clip URL Kenney notes that crustaceans are aggressive and hard to combine in an exhibit so they match sizes. She says Butterfly fish eat anemones, so they can’t be put in the same exhibit. Star fish eat clams so they can’t go in the same exhibit. She agrees that the term “being crabby” comes from the fact that crustaceans are noted for being temperamental with nasty dispositions.

15:24Copy video clip URL Kenney and the videographer are in a back room of the aquarium where snails in a conservation program are being held and cared for. She takes the videographer in a climate controlled chamber where the snails are kept in plastic containers. She explains these snails need controlled light, humidity, and temperature. The light cycle in this chamber is programmed to simulate the light in the snails’ native Tahiti. She explains the two specifies they have are Partula hyalina and Partula nodosa. They started with 30 Partula hyalina and now have 600; the 240 Partula nodosa they started with have now grown to 700. Kenney comments that the London Zoo started this snail conservation program and that 18 organizations around the world are involved. Twenty-four different species of Partula are in captivation on a long-term, fifty-year plan to revive and reintroduce the species back into their native Tahiti.

21:48Copy video clip URL Kenney explains the importance of saving a snail. The Shedd Aquarium believes every animal is important to life and to the Earth’s ecology. Some humans interfere with a habitat, introduce new creatures, but the consequences of that are not known.

23:02Copy video clip URL Kenney says that because each animal serves a purpose in the Earth’s healthy life cycle it’s important to save these snails because we don’t know what exactly their role in the ecosystem is. If their species dies off, we don’t know how that will affect the environment, so we want to keep the species going. These snails feed on dead vegetation. What happens if that isn’t eaten? That could affect the environment over time.

24:11Copy video clip URL Kenney explains that in the 1960s large land snails from Africa were introduced onto Tahiti as food. The snails escaped into the wild and became an agricultural pest. In 1977 the Government introduced a carnivorous snail from Florida to get rid of the pests. Instead though, the carnivorous snails went after the native Patrula snails who had no defense against them.

25:47Copy video clip URL Kenney says that she does eat fish, if they are harvested correctly and not endangered, and would eat clams and shrimp if not for an allergy she has.

26:50Copy video clip URL She says she has a severe reaction to anemone stings and must be extra careful when handling them.

27:20Copy video clip URL B-roll of the snails eating. Kenney takes one small snail out of its container and places it on her finger for camera. She notes that lots of our medicines are taken from compounds found in plants and suggests that maybe there’s some compound in snails that could also be beneficial to humans. As we lose animals, she says, we lose the potential for learning. Snails breakdown dead vegetation. They have a bacteria in their stomach to eat it. Maybe that bacteria can help us somehow. We have no idea what advantage we can gain from the snail. She notes that snails have their babies live, not as an egg. Babies are only 2mm in length.

29:54Copy video clip URL Kenney places a snail on the camera’s lens where it stays as videographer continues interviewing. Kenney discusses the growing stages of snails and that they are hermaphrodites, they can mate with each other. She comments that their genetics are similar to the Galapagos Finch. A snail was originally brought to Tahiti by perhaps some other creature — attached to a bird, or attached to a boat — and started to evolve into many species.

33:18Copy video clip URL Kenney removes the snail from the camera lens and grabs others that are starting to escape from their plastic containers.

34:18Copy video clip URL Videographer playfully asks if there’s a danger of these snails escaping and running rampant in Chicago. Kenney assures him the snails could never escape from the chamber or from the building and even if they did, they’d never adapt to the climate. Furthermore, they only feed on dead vegetation so the inhabitants of the city are safe.

35:44Copy video clip URL Kenney notes that the food prepared for them in the chamber is comprised of bird compound, Quaker Oats, ground plant material, vitamin E mixture. They put different amounts in the various containers depending on how many snails are in each one.

36:52Copy video clip URL Kurt, a volunteer, prepares the food mixture and feeds the snails. He says he is here 4 hours a week. Once he removes the adult snails from the containers he searches for and removes the babies. The babies can measure only 2.75mm. While doing this, he discovers a new baby has been born. He logs the new generation.

39:49Copy video clip URL Kenney discusses the mistakes people make having invertebrates as pets: not enough light on the tank, a tank that’s too small, they don’t read up on the species and how to take care of it.

41:09Copy video clip URL Continued b-roll of Kurt feeding the snails. He notes if they put too much food in the containers the food will hold in too much moisture and the box won’t dry out properly.

41:34Copy video clip URL Video drop outs. Stop/re-start digitizing. Kenney explains it’s important the snails go through a wet/dry cycle. She comments that you get a feel for what the snail needs. You’d think they want to be wet all the time, but that’s not necessarily true.

42:53Copy video clip URL Kurt says he’s a server at Morton’s restaurant and is in college. In that way he serves all of humanity. He says the public gets excited by big mammals and cute animals. The smaller invertebrate don’t get as much attention. We need people to get the public excited about them and recognize their value. He says he was always interested in marine biology and saw the Aquarium needed volunteers.

45:20Copy video clip URL Kenney says she is known as the Snail Lady and thinks that’s great. She says you can tell if someone is a zoo keeper or aquarist by their jewelry, clothes, belt buckles and that she’s no different: she collects snail jewelry, statuettes. She shows her snail figurine collection and snail mug.

46:36Copy video clip URL Kenney and Kurt give permission to be videotaped.

46:54Copy video clip URL END

 

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