Most people would cower at just the thought of entering shark-infested waters. That is not the case with 25-year-old Morgan Denney.
The West Virginia native, who now lives in Canton, works as an aquarist in the Blacktip Reef and Atlantic Coral Reef exhibits at the National Aquarium. Denney is one of only a few people who venture inside the tank of the Blacktip Reef exhibit, where various sea animals dwell, including a school of blacktip reef sharks for which the exhibit is named.
Denney prepares the sharks' food, observes them for injuries or sickness and dives with them when feeding other animals in the exhibit; he does not hand-feed the sharks. "We use a target buoy and feed [them] from the surface of the exhibit. When they touch the target, they get fed," he said. "This way, they associate the target with food and not the divers."
Worst pet peeve? When bicyclists don't obey traffic laws.
What song are you loving right now? I can't get enough of that Avicii song, "Wake Me Up." Sometimes I play it on loop four or five times.
Trend that has exceeded its natural lifespan? Hashtags. It's always hashtag this hashtag that. They're everywhere. It's #ridiculous!
Last movie you liked? I really liked "Gravity." I was pretty surprised by that one. I figured, how can they eke 90 minutes out of floating around in space? But it was awesome!
TV show(s) you can't get enough of? I am getting back into "The Walking Dead." Not sure why I ever stopped watching it!
Favorite and most loathed fashion statement? Stylish leather jackets are my favorite. I hate it when people wear glasses with no lenses as an accessory. I don't get it.
Favorite/least favorite thing about sharks? Favorite: They are all perfectly adapted to their niche. The blacktips are streamlined so they are agile and quick, while our wobbegong sharks are camouflage experts. Least favorite: Their teeth. They tend to get a bad rap because of them.
Last great meal you had? Sushi and sake at Nanami Cafe in Fells Point.
Favorite place to get a drink in Baltimore? I really like Moonshine Tavern (now Myth and Moonshine) in Canton.
Best advice you ever got? "Don't sweat the small things." Trying to just brush things off and not take it personally has kept my blood pressure low, for sure.
Favorite sea animal (other than sharks)? I really like octopus. They are super smart and fun to work with. My favorite part is giving them a seemingly difficult maze or puzzle with food in it, and then watching them solve it in a minute or two.
Favorite thing about Baltimore? The neighborhoods. It's a big city, but the smaller communities make it feel like a small town wherever you go.
AS TOLD TO EMMA SCHKLOVEN