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Former volunteer Mus gains full-time gig at MSC

POULSBO — Ask Patrick Mus what he does at the Poulsbo Marine Science Center and his answer is straightforward.

“Anything and everything,” he said with a laugh.

But ask him what he likes about his job and the answer is the same.

Mus is the newest hire at the MSC, has been on the job as the center’s marine operations specialist for a little more than a month. He had formerly volunteered at the center for three years performing the similar duties of maintaining the center’s salt water systems and exhibits. A long-time environmental activist besides, Mus said his MSC job simply makes his lifelong passion official.

“It just goes hand in hand with me,” Mus said of joining the MSC staff.

Mus hails from a strong background in maintenance of salt water systems for aquaculture projects, mechanics, management and the environment. He has been a SCUBA diver since 1986 and has done some diving for the MSC, including assisting in the installation of the new Liberty Bay Station, which monitors the local waterway.

His job also includes maintaining the live animal collections and supervising and coordinating the volunteers who carry out the tasks of feeding the animals and cleaning tanks. He will also oversee the summer Junior Aquarium Workers (JAWS) classes.

On a recent visit, Mus was found distracting the center’s resident octopus while volunteer Wes Nicholson cleaned her tank and joking that he was the “octopus whisperer.” Though he enjoys working with the animals, Mus explained that it’s much harder to create bonds with them because the MSC staff endeavor to keep them as wild as possible for the potential of release later.

“Animals are bizarre,” Mus said. “Sometimes they like me and sometimes they don’t.”

In his new position, Mus said he’d like to help foster a stronger adult education aspect of the center, as well as outreach for unserved communities like senior citizens.

“So whether you’re a kid or an adult, you’ll keep learning,” he said.

He said he’s also hoping to make sure that the MSC exhibits and animal residentsrotate on a more frequent basis in order to highlight the diverse Puget Sound niches. But he acknowledged that what he hopes to do in the future would not even be possible without the solid foundation that has been built by others before him.

“I appreciate everything that everyone has done in the past here,” Mus said.

Among his other volunteer work, Mus has volunteered with the Kitsap County Stream Team and chaired the Kitsap Peninsula Watershed Planning Unit and the Water Resource Inventory Area unit 15 team.

Besides enhancing environmental education for hundreds of local kids, Mus also brings the saltwater world home to his own 11-year-old daughter. His wife works full time, so he is their daughter’s primary care-giver during the day. She has followed him to many of his past environmental jobs and now also volunteers her time at the MSC.

“She’s my partner in crime,” Mus commented.

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