West Auckland boy experiences every child's 'dream job'
Not every nine-year-old can say they've slept next to sharks.
Ayden Young, from Bethells Beach can - he slept under the shark tunnel at Kelly Tarlton's with his mum and dad on July 9.
Ayden prepared breakfast for the elephant sharks and other tropical fishes, gave talks about his fishy friends to the public and hung out with penguins - all in one day.
Sea Life Kelly Tarlton's held a school holidays competition searching for the ultimate ocean ranger. Ayden's love of marine life and sharks scored him his "dream job".
The ocean ranger experienced life behind the scenes as a marine biologist.
Ayden was "over the moon" about his sea life experience especially because it's a career he hopes to pursue in the future.
"I want to become a marine biologist," Ayden said.
"I love the sea and sharks, we live near the sea and I try to get out to the water as much as I can."
In his entry, Ayden said he went in the shark cage with his dad on his ninth birthday and was researching the Mariana Trench - the deepest part of the world's ocean, located in the western Pacific Ocean. There were creatures living in trench that hadn't been discovered yet, the boy said.
When he found out he had won the competition, he couldn't wait - but the days leading up to his sleepover were "going so slow". The ocean ranger experience he said, was something he would never forget.
"I can't wait to tell my friends, I just have to try and remember all the exciting things that I did because there were so many."
Kelly Tarlton's marketing manager Ryan Hamilton said Ayden was a natural on the job.
"He was very keen and hands on. He definitely has a lot of love for the water and the ocean and wasn't scared at all about getting in there to help out," Hamilton said.