Sunday, August 14, 2016


Quick quiz:

Are you a marine mammal specialist?
Do you feed your animals frozen fish?
Are you a masochist?


If you answered "Yes" to any of those questions, then you'll relate to today's Middle Flipper.
You don't have to answer "yes" to all of them, just one will suffice.

You guys all probably have dealt with at least one fish truck delivery in your career lifetime. And, let's face it, it probably wasn't the most awesome thing ever.

Every reasonable person knows that we as animal caregivers do all parts of our job - fun or not - with 110% effort, because we know it's for the animals.  Receiving shipments of fish is one of those tasks whose fun-level falls somewhere between "Picking Up Wet Hair With Your Bare Hands" and "Being Electrocuted."  Alas, it is an essential part of our job and so we grin and bear it.
Just deal with it

What's so frustrating about fish delivery, you may ask? (I'm assuming you've never experienced it if you're asking).   Here's a short list:

1) Our fish has to stay below a certain (freezing) temperature 100% of the time

2) Our facilities are, for the most part, not designed for giant shipments of anything

3) Most fish deliveries have several stops in other states

4) The time/space continuum operate on a completely different dimension (did you say you'll be here at 11:30? Is that on Earth time or Alpha Centauri time?)

5) Truck drivers are otherworldly creatures sent by the gods to test us mortals


For those of us who live in hot places, or whose summers get super hot, fish deliveries are really tricky if ANYTHING goes wrong.  The longer the journey and the more stops the truck has, the more likely something is going to get messed up.

Here are just some of the experiences I've had with fish truck deliveries.  It's okay to laugh at them.  Laughter is better than pulling your own eyeballs out of your head.

The Time When We Got Someone Else's Fish
But it's a great color for you!

Picture this: you, waiting for a delivery that's been delayed several hours because it hit Atlanta traffic during its delivery to a facility there.  You eagerly await the final backing-in of the semi trailer that holds thousands of dollars worth of fish.  You've only got a couple of days' worth of food in your freezer, so this delivery came in the knick of time.

The truck driver opens the back of the trailer.  You hop in the back of the truck and


Oh no.

This fish isn't yours.  SOMEONE ELSE HAS YOUR BOXES OF FISH.

Surely this isn't so.  I mean, the boxes are wrapped in plastic shrink wrap.  There are 395802983058 million of them and they all look the same, because they are all from the same place.  But you notice you have sea animals you don't even feed to the animals in your care.  You've got way too many boxes of the stuff you DO feed to your animals.  Oh god.

Luckily, the problem was solved with several phone calls and some extra truck time.  All the fish stayed cool, and everyone wound up getting what they needed in time. 

The Time When The Truck Driver Proposed To A Trainer


He's from eastern Europe.  He speaks 29 words of English, two of those are "marry me".

She is wearing a bathing suit, a life jacket vest (chic, elegant), and gigantic steel-toed boots.   What more can I say?

The Time When The Truck Driver Didn't Know How To Back Up His Rig


One of the places I worked at is on a two-lane highway.  It's usually not super busy, and the speed limit in front of the aquarium is 35mph.  But....about two inches up the road it's 55mph and people are not very happy or inclined to slow down. 

This creates a really unique situation for, oh, let's say a semi who blocks the entire highway because he got his rig stuck in the sandy shoulder.

Don't worry though, us trainers in our bathing suits put out traffic cones and got to stare into the soulless eyes of the drivers forced to remain inert.

The Time When The Truck Just Didn't Show Up
Just take the day off.

Fish delivery? What fish delivery?

More importantly, what are we going to feed the dolphins tomorrow? Pizza?

The Time When We Had To Unstack Everything By Hand And The Driver Just Sat There And Got Pissed That He Was Going To Be Late For His Next Stop But He Never Offered To Help But I'm Not Bitter Or Anything

Nope. Not bitter at all.


Lookit, I know I'm not a truck driver.  I respect the profession.  Just as people criticize us in our jobs, it's unfair to lump a few bad experiences into a stereotype.  But if I were a statistician (which I am not, for obvious reasons such as: I am a mathematical idiot), I would find a strong statistically significant relationship between Times We Need Fish Delivered and Times Fish Delivery Goes Totally Wrong. 

Does anyone else have this problem outside of the marine mammal/aquatic world?  Do shipments of produce go missing?  If you ordered 78 bales of hay, do you get a marriage proposal?  Please tell me we are not alone in this....

1 comment:

  1. I work in Nutrition for services for a land mammals....and birds. Most of the seafood we purchase goes towards 40 pelicans and 20 cow-nose rays. We are in Arizona. There are 2 fish deliveries I can think of off the top of my head that were disastrous for us. (1) That time around new year when the trucking company sending our fish decided not to send the fish because they didnt feel like sending a partial truck out. It just so happened we we were at that point of only having 2 days of fish left. Well, we received our fish.....over a week later, so we had the pleasure of calling all aquarium and zoo like places around us to see if anyone had a few hundred pounds of a few certain species of fish that they could spare. (2) That time the fish was delivered.....melting. Yup. The frozen fish was no longer frozen when the driver arrived and he could not understand why we were so unhappy. He refused to take it back, so we stuck the melted fish in our freezer, made lots of phone calls over a month period, got the fish replaced a week later (luckily), and told our vendor DO NOT ship with company again. And then we threw out all the grossness that was in the freezer.