Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

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Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
Date opened June 20, 2009[1]
Location Sidney, British Columbia, CAN
Coordinates 48°38′57″N 123°23′42″W / 48.64917°N 123.39500°W / 48.64917; -123.39500Coordinates: 48°38′57″N 123°23′42″W / 48.64917°N 123.39500°W / 48.64917; -123.39500
Land area 930 square metres (10,000 sq ft)[1]
Memberships CAZA

The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre is a not-for-profit aquarium and marine education centre that focuses on the ecosystem of the Salish Sea and is located inside the Sidney Pier Hotel on the Vancouver Island town of Sidney, Canada, in the Greater Victoria region. Since its grand opening on June 20, 2009, the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre has quickly become a popular tourist attraction, receiving its first 100,000 visitors in its first seven months of operations and has won numerous awards including being named "One of Canada's Top Ten New Attractions" for summer 2009 by Where Magazine.[2][3]


The development of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre started in 2004, when the Town of Sidney approved the development proposal by the Marker Group to build the Sidney Pier Hotel, which would be overlooking the Salish Sea. The construction of the hotel was approved by the city on the basis that the site would include 930 square metres (10,000 sq ft) of space on the main floor that would be owned by the town to originally house the Marine Mammal Museum and Marine Ecology Centre. However, the board members from the two organizations recognized the opportunity the expanded space would provide to them, which included the spectacular views of the surrounding Salish Sea and inner knowledge of its surrounding marine life.[1]

Predicting that local interest in the ocean was growing more each year, the board members of the Marine Mammal Museum and Marine Ecology Centre decided to join forces and incorporate the best from each organization in order to build an ocean discovery centre. The two groups formed the non-profit New Marine Centre Society with a six-member volunteer board. The six-member board, with Sidney councilor Peter Wainwright, spent the next 18 months preparing an economic feasibility study and plan, conducting a survey of potential designers, and developing a vision statement.[1] Eventually, the New Marine Centre Society would reach an agreement with the Town of Sidney on a 20-year lease for the 930 square metres (10,000 sq ft) paying only $5/month.

In September 2006, volunteers Murray and Lynda Farmer started the $5 Million Discover Your Ocean Campaign, which completed on April 20, 2009. Through the fundraising drive, major donations included a $1.5 million from the Shaw Charitable Committee, a $2 million from Canada/BC Infrastructure Grant, and $1.5 million in private donations to reach the $5 million goal. The New Marince Centre Society would eventually receive an additional $3.5 million to complete the construction of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre.


Gallery of Drifters

This exhibit shows many species of jelly fish, plankton, and algae (ocean drifters) to help visitors understand the foundations of the ocean food web in the Salish Sea. Species in this exhibit include Sea nettles and Moon Jellys.[4]

Ocean's Heartbeat

This wet lab and classroom is used by school groups, though ordinary visitors are welcome when it is not in use. It contains microscopes for visitors to view the mini-ecosystems habitats, and a teacher's desk with a fish tank inside.[4] The area is also used to house new-born fish and contain bones of whales.[citation needed] Lastly, the exhibit contains a 60-cm female fetus of a hybrid Harbour and Dall's Porpoise that was discovered from a dead female Dall's Porpoise on Southern Vancouver Island in 1998.[5]

Gallery of the Salish Sea

This exhibit is home to hundreds of species of fish, invertebrates, and marine plants from the Salish Sea, including Giant Pacific Octopus, Wolf Eel, Rock greenling, Painted greenling, Pacific Herring, Chinook Salmon, King Crab.[4]

Touch Pools

Using only one finger, visitors can gently touch a sea urchin and be tickled by a sea star while they are being taught by volunteers known as the Oceaneers. At the same time visitors will be able to view the Gulf Islands, the Salish Sea and the active volcano Mt. Baker.


  1. ^ a b c d "A Brief History of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre". Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. Retrieved September 12, 2010. 
  2. ^ "100,000th Visitor". Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. September 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Trade". Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. September 12, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "Exhibits". Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. September 12, 2010. 

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