My name is Ryan Firment. I am from Amherst, Ohio (near Cleveland). I graduated from Amherst Steele High School in 2011. I then attended Bowling Green State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science with a specialization in Marine and Aquatic Biology in May of 2015.
How did you end up working at Coral World?
My career story begins in Texas. After being a Fisheries Observer I decided to get back in the aquarium field. I accepted a job at the Kemah Aquarium in Kemah, Texas. It was there that I met Kathleen Echivarria and an amazing team of like-minded individuals. After a year of working there, I was ready for change and to broaden my knowledge. I remember applying for the job at Coral World and expecting not to hear anything. Then an email appeared saying that I had been selected for an interview. Later another email appeared from the assistant curator offering me a job as an aquarist. I was so excited and terrified. It was all thanks to Kathleen who knew some of the Coral World staff prior and for giving me an incredible review.
What is your favorite job to do at work?
My favorite job is cleaning the turtle shells. It is gratifying to know that not only are my girls clean, but they are healthy too. Not only that, but it is one of the only jobs where I can be 100% hands on with the animals I take care of.
What is the grossest thing you’ve had to do?
This is a difficult question because most things do not gross me out. After being an aquarist, you get used to the nasty side of things. But, if I had to pick one thing it would be the time a turtle pooped in my face while scrubbing its shell. It was honestly more annoying than anything else.
What/Who is your favorite animal at the park and why?
Tortuga is my favorite animal at Coral World. Tortuga is a green sea turtle who has a permanent place in my heart. She was the first turtle to allow me to clean her. In fact she would swim right inbetween my legs begging for more scrubs.
What would you tell someone who wants to work in the field?
Working in the field does not always pay the best, but the reward is so much greater. So, if you don’t mind a minimalistic lifestyle, but enjoy knowing that your work is not only impacting the lives of the people visiting your facility but also changing the world around you for the better, then being an aquarist is the job for you. I love being able to give the best quality of care to my animals, and in return they inspire the guests who walk through to have a better understanding for the world around them and take responsibility for the negative actions that impact these incredible animals. Not only that, but being able to be a part of the conservation efforts that positively impact our planet is unquestionably fulfilling.
If you could meet any superhero in real life, who would it be and why?
Aquaman… He can literally talk to/command aquatic life!