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Tropical Team Supervisor

Seattle Aquarium
Seattle, United States Posted: February 12, 2024

Key functions: 

The Tropical Team Supervisor is responsible for all aspects of the care and management of the Aquarium’s fish invertebrate, and plant population. These duties include but are not limited to:

 Staff Supervision:

  • Direct work and coordinate scheduling of Animal Care staff (Assistant Aquarists, Aquarists, Senior Aquarists, and Life Sciences/Operations Relief staff). 
  • Provide direct supervision for Assistant Aquarist and Aquarist staff.  Conduct annual performance reviews, work on goal setting, and support professional development of assigned animal care staff. 
  • Work closely with other Supervisors, Associate Curator, and Curator to ensure direction and training of staff align with Tropical Team priorities and the Aquarium’s S.A.L.I.S.H. and D.E.I. values.
  • Build and lead a high-performing team, fostering a culture of collaboration and communication, staff wellbeing, and accountable management in the team environment. 
  • Must be an emotionally intelligent supervisor and mentor with an investment in the team's professional development.  
  • Leads daily animal care operations by establishing team priorities and objectives, delegation of team tasks and responsibilities, assessing work completed by the team, and coordination with other teams throughout the Aquarium.
  • Lead and coordinate hiring, initial onboarding and training of staff as assigned. 
  • Train, coordinate and supervise the work of Assistant Aquarist, Aquarist I & Aquarist II level staff by identifying, assigning, and monitoring daily husbandry related tasks.
  • Must work openly and collaboratively with other Supervisor and Curatorial staff to ensure Aquarium policies and procedures are upheld consistently and equitably across the the Life Sciences Department. 

Animal Care:

  • Prepare, store, and distribute food according to established amounts, types, and diets; monitor feeding habits and report any changes or abnormalities.
  • Clean and perform routine maintenance and minor repair of animal exhibits and holding areas to assure the health of animals and the presentation of the species in an attractive environment. Maintain water quality to keep aquatic animals in a healthy condition.
  • Observe animals and evaluate behavior to determine physical and behavioral health and well-being.
  • Lead daily animal care operations in designated area, delegating and assigning work as necessary.
  • Maintain records and reports regarding assigned species including daily veterinary reports, exhibit maintenance, food consumption records and other reports specific to the assigned area.
  • Lead or assist Curatorial staff with the acquisition of plants and animals. Coordinate and plan animal moves between habitats and animal transport between facilities.
  • Assist with administration of medications and treatments according to established procedures and veterinary instructions. Provide assistance handling or restraining animals in accordance with established safety procedures as necessary to ensure animal welfare.
  • Collaborate with animal care, veterinary, water quality, and life support staff to ensure that animal habitats are well maintained optimized for the specific animals they house.
  • Provide occasional response to animal emergencies or LSS alarm outside normally scheduled hours.

Collaboration and Engagement:

  • Provide direct daily supervision for Interns. Assess their work, provide feedback, and coordinate training and development plans with the help of Sr. Aquarist staff.   Lead Intern hiring process and coordinate scheduling.
  • Value and prioritize the Aquarium’s commitment to advancing conversations, programs, and policies supporting our DEI and S.A.L.I.S.H. values.  Help create space for meaningful team discussions and support staff participation on DEI focused projects.
  • Coordinate, plan, and execute the Life Sciences aspects of special events and represent Life Sciences in appropriate planning meetings and committees.

Additional Responsibilities: 

  • Act as role model for compliance with all Aquarium safety protocols.
  • Assure the safety of animals, employees and the visiting public from injury or mishap.
  • Perform emergency first aid and CPR as needed and according to established guidelines.
  • Establish and maintain cooperative and effective working relationships with others.
  • Serve as a customer service liaison through daily contacts with visitors providing information and answering questions.
  • Act as institutional representative in AZA and other professional organizations.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Diving Responsibilities and Requirements:  

  • Achieve and maintain Aquarium Scientific Diver status in the Aquarium’s diving program.
  • This scientific diving classification allows for participation in surface-supplied and open-circuit diving as a diver or tender within Seattle Aquarium exhibits only.
  • Use SCUBA and surface-supplied air systems to conduct animal care and exhibit maintenance tasks within Aquarium habitats.   

To qualify for evaluation as a Seattle Aquarium diver, candidates must meet the following general criteria:

  • Possess a scuba certification to the level of rescue diver (or equivalent) from a nationally recognized certification agency.
  • Possess a recent (less than 12 months) approval for recreational scuba diving signed by a physician (MD or DO).
  • Successfully pass an AAUS watermanship requirements swim test.
  • Pass a Seattle Aquarium scuba skills evaluation dive.

In addition, the new staff diver candidate must complete and pass the following aquarium diver physical exam, training classes and deadlines:

  • Pass a Seattle Aquarium occupational diving physical exam.
  • Complete emergency oxygen provider training within six months of hire.
  • Complete staff exhibit diver training and evaluation within six months of hire.
  • Attain position-defined level of scientific diver training and evaluation within one year of hire.


Required skills and experience: 

We will consider various combinations of relevant experience and education to meet minimum requirements. 

  • Must have a clear understanding of fish and invertebrate biology and technical knowledge of marine biology, water quality analysis, aquatic life support systems, and marine animal health.
  • Must maintain a current and clear understanding of life support and mechanical systems for open and closed aquariums.
  • Must have or be able to obtain a Washington State Driver’s License.
  • Must have ability to use fall restraint equipment, respirators, and other appropriate safety gear; may be required to work in confined spaces.
  • Must possess strong interpersonal, collaboration and team-building skills.
  • Must possess exemplary organizational skills, be self-motivated, and communicate effectively orally and writing; demonstrate leadership qualities and act as point person for Life Sciences projects and other similar activities.
  • Ability to use various computer software products: MS Word, Excel, and Internet browsers.
  • Pursuit of continued education, skills, and training expected; remain current on developments in the field within and outside the organization; maintain proficiencies.
  • B.A./B.S. degree in biology, marine biology, or related field an advantage.
  • Minimum of 3 years’ experience, preferably demonstrating progressively responsible duties, involving the care and husbandry of animals in a zoo, aquarium, or related environment (AZA facility preferred) team leadership experience preferred. 
  • Must be able to obtain CPR, first aid, and AED certifications.

Working conditions:

  • Must be able to be on their feet 6 or more hours a day, be physically active through physical motions. 
  • Must be able to swim and pass and maintain all required scuba diving skills and certifications.  
  • Must be willing to work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays and an occasional 24-hour emergency call. 
  • Occasionally required to lift more than 50 pounds. 
  • Regularly required to scuba dive which can be physically taxing and requires passing a physical exam.   
  • Required to work outdoors year-round, near water, on wet and slippery surfaces and at heights. 
  • Requires handling, working with or exposure to large, dangerous animals, animal diseases, feces, and toxic chemicals. 
  • Specific vision abilities required by the job include close vision, distance vision, color and peripheral vision, depth perception, and the ability to adjust focus. 
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is required to stand; walk; sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools or controls; reach with hands and arms; climb stairs; balance; stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl; talk or hear; taste or smell. 

Salary and benefits: $32.60 -  $35.50 hourly, Dependent on experience. Please include salary expectations in your materials. Full-time staff are eligible for the Seattle Aquarium’s comprehensive benefits package to include medical, vision, dental, an employer-funded health reimbursement account, medical and dependent care flexible spending accounts, life insurance, long-term disability, 403b retirement fund with employer match, access to a subsidized ORCA pass, a Seattle Aquarium Family Plus membership and generous paid time off.]

How to apply: The Seattle Aquarium is committed to expanding a diverse, equitable, and inclusive conservation movement. We are invested in building an Aquarium with a wide variety of backgrounds, identities, languages, cultural ways of knowing, and life experiences. We know research shows that society has conditioned communities of color, trans and gender non-conforming people, immigrants, people with disabilities, and other marginalized candidates to more frequently not apply to a job because they don’t feel that they meet all of the qualifications listed even if they are qualified. If you meet some of the requirements and you are passionate about our mission and our ocean, we encourage you to apply and look forward to learning more about you.

Interested candidates should upload a résumé to our online application to be considered. Application review will begin immediately. 


Please let us know if you require a reasonable accommodation to apply for this job by emailing us at  

Note: If offered the position, candidates must pass a background check. Conviction record is not an automatic disqualifier; we are a second chance employer.  

About the Seattle Aquarium: 

The Seattle Aquarium is a respected authority on Puget Sound, the Salish Sea and the world’s one ocean. Our passionate staff increases awareness and drives the change needed to preserve and protect our marine environment by providing an inspiring visitor experience, engaging daytime and evening events, conservation education programs for people of all ages and backgrounds, community outreach to marginalized populations, research that advances understanding of animals in our care and their counterparts in the wild, advocacy and policy work, an award-winning volunteer program, high-impact marketing and communications, and more.  

Our values, developed in conjunction with our staff, include commitments to adopting and promoting sustainable practices, creating awe-inspiring experiences, constantly learning and improving, fostering an inclusive community, maintaining scientific credibility through evidence-based practices and honoring our unique place by using our location and history as a lens for larger understanding.  

Proudly accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, we’re among the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. by attendance, and we welcome over 850,000 people each year. Guided by our mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment, we’re working to substantially increase our conservation impact by expanding our campus with a new building, the Ocean Pavilion. Learn more at



We anticipate the following recruiting schedule for those candidates who are selected for consideration. The following dates are preliminary and subject to change. We will work with candidates to set interview dates. If hired, relocation assistance is not available.  

  • Priority given to applications received The first 2 weeks after posting
  • Start date: April, 2024 

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