|Date opened||June 15, 1956 |
|Location||Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN|
|Land area||2.1 acres (0.85 ha)|
|Floor space||100,000 square feet (9,300 m2)|
|Number of animals||70,000|
|Number of species||6,000|
|Total volume of tanks||9,500,000 litres (2,100,000 imp gal; 2,500,000 US gal)|
|Memberships||AZA, CAZA, WAZA, AMMPA|
The Vancouver Aquarium (officially the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre) is a public aquarium located in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In addition to being a major tourist attraction for Vancouver, the aquarium is a centre for marine research, conservation and marine animal rehabilitation.
The Vancouver Aquarium was one of the first facilities to incorporate professional naturalists into the galleries to interpret animal behaviours. Prior to this, at the London Zoo Fish House, naturalists James S. Bowerbank, Dr. E Lankester, Mr D. Mitchell and Philip Henry Gosse (the creator of the word aquarium) had regularly held "open house" events, but the Vancouver Aquarium was the first to employ educational naturalists on a full-time basis. Aquarium research projects extend worldwide, and include marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation.
On August 9, 2010 Prime Minister Stephen Harper and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell used the aquarium's beluga tank as a backdrop as together they announced capital funding of up to $15 million for the Stanley Park attraction. The province would donate $10 million in funding over the next three years to help pay for a planned expansion of the 54-year-old facility, Premier Gordon Campbell said. Harper added that Ottawa would hand over up to $5 million to the aquarium for infrastructure upgrades.". The aquarium, however, remains a nonprofit organization. The property is owned by the City of Vancouver and rented to the Aquarium for $40,000 a year since 1991 (prior to which it was $1 per year).
In October 2009 the Vancouver Aquarium was designated as a Coastal America Learning Center by the US Environmental Protection Agency. As the first Learning Center in Canada, this designation is intended to strengthen the Canadian/U.S. partnership for protecting and restoring shared ocean resources.
- 1 Aquarium history
- 2 Aquarium facility
- 3 Animals at the Aquarium
- 4 Conservation and Research Programs
- 5 In popular culture
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Vancouver Public Aquarium Association was formed in 1950 by UBC fisheries and oceanography professors Murray Newman, Carl Lietze and Wilbert Clemens. It opened on June 15, 1956 after receiving the help of timber baron H.R. MacMillan, alderman and businessman George Cunningham and $100,000 from each of the three levels of government. (City of Vancouver, Province of British Columbia, Federal Government of Canada.)
Officially Canada's first public Aquarium, the Vancouver Aquarium has become the largest in Canada and one of the five largest in North America. The Vancouver Aquarium was the first aquarium in the world to capture and display an orca. Other whales and dolphins on display included belugas, narwhals and dolphins.
In 1975, the Vancouver Aquarium was the first aquarium accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Aquarium is also accredited by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) and in 1987 was designated Canada's Pacific National Aquarium by the Canadian Federal Government.
On July 23, 1995, a beluga whale named Qila was born. She was the first beluga to be both conceived and born in a Canadian aquarium. A second calf, Tuvaq, was born on July 30, 2002, but died unexpectedly with no previous sign of illness on July 17, 2005.
In 1996, the Vancouver Park Board instituted a municipal bylaw that prevents the Vancouver Aquarium from capturing cetaceans from the wild for display purposes, and only obtain cetaceans from other facilities if they were born in captivity, captured before 1996 or were rescued and deemed un-releasable after this date.
On June 15, 2006 Canada Post issued a 51 cent domestic rate stamp to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Aquarium.
For many years, the primary attraction for visitors was the orca show. Indeed, the Aquarium was responsible for the first orca ever held alive in captivity, Moby Doll, for 3 months in 1964. Since then, it was home to Skana, Hyak II, Finna, Bjossa, and three of Bjossa's calves. When Finna died and Bjossa was left without other orca companions, the Aquarium attempted to acquire one or more female orcas from other marine parks. However, no suitable companions were found, and Bjossa was moved to SeaWorld, San Diego, in April 2001 where she later died due to a chronic respiratory illness. The Aquarium has since moved to emphasize the educational aspects of the displays rather than the public spectacle of the shows. They have also tried to highlight the research and rehabilitation efforts of the staff.
The aquarium has played a significant role in the ground-breaking wild killer whale research in BC. John Ford, a respected researcher who focuses on orca vocalizations, worked there for many years and they still fund a lot of the study. The Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program, which funds research, is also run out of the aquarium.
After considerable public discussion and some opposition from an animal rights group, the Vancouver Park Board voted in favour of a proposal to expand the Aquarium at a cost of $100 million, funded by the Aquarium, private donors, and infrastructure grants. A public consultation process, led by the aquarium and their own consultants, showed 89% of local residents were in favour of the expansion. The proposal will increase the size of the Aquarium by 1.5 acres (6,100 m2) and extend its lease by 20 years. Construction was expected to begin in the fall of 2007.
In March 2014, Park Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth publicly spoke out against the practice of keeping whales and dolphins captive at the aquarium, claiming "she could no longer pretend to agree with the Vancouver Aquarium keeping and breeding whales and dolphins in captivity." The comment sparked a rapidly growing public debate about cetacean captivity. She was joined two weeks later by fellow Park Board Commissioner Constance Barnes to call for an end to whale and dolphin captivity at the Aquarium. On April 9, 2014, current Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson (politician), in an emailed letter to The Georgia Straight, expressed his personal belief that "the Vancouver Aquarium should begin to phase out the holding of whales and dolphins in captivity". The Vancouver Aquarium answered by releasing a statement to its members and to the media, stating that "Dolphins and belugas at Vancouver Aquarium play a direct and vital role in engaging people in key ocean issues. [...] Further, the aquarium is the only facility in Canada that can rescue, rehabilitate and provide a long-term home to marine animals that are deemed non-releasable by appropriate government authorities."
The aquarium covers approximately 9,000 square metres (97,000 sq ft) and has a total 9,500,000 litres (2,100,000 imp gal; 2,500,000 US gal) of water in 166 aquatic displays. There are a number of different galleries, several of which were built at different times throughout the aquarium's history.
Pacific Canada Pavilion
Originally this gallery included the Beluga whales along with several non-living displays. In October 2009, a new exhibit opened here displaying several other arctic species, including fishes and invertebrates, along with expanded non-living exhibits.
The Wild Coast
This is an outdoor gallery that includes several pools, home to Pacific White-sided Dolphins, sea otters, and harbour porpoises that are permanently on display here, along with several "touchpools" where visitors are able to touch British Columbian invertebrates. Several other species (harbour seals, Steller's Sea Lions, and northern fur seals) are rotated in to display in this area. When not on display they live in habitats behind the scenes that are not accessible to visitors.
Treasures of the BC Coast
Frogs Forever? Gallery
This gallery is an exhibit focused on the plight of the world's frog population which endeavors to show how people can help protect frogs and other amphibians. It contains 26 species of amphibians from around the world.
Canaccord Exploration Gallery
This gallery is home to jellies, fish, and other animals. The 4D Theatre and the children's play area known as "Clownfish Cove" are here, along with multiple classrooms for school groups, including the wet lab education room, which contains both conventional teaching methods such as computers, tables, and chairs, along with live animals and various artefacts.
Animals at the Aquarium
The Vancouver Aquarium currently houses around 300 species of fish, almost 30,000 invertebrates, and 56 species of amphibians and reptiles. They also have around 60 mammals and birds.
Currently, the Aquarium houses two Pacific White-Sided Dolphins:
- Hana is an approximately 18 year old female dolphin at the Aquarium. She came to the Aquarium with Helen from the Enoshima Aquarium in Japan in 2005. The aquarium maintains that she was rescued from entanglement in a fishing net, although no records of this have been produced. She is identified through the fact that her dorsal fin is the most triangular of all the dolphins at the Aquarium.
- Helen is an approximately 24 year old female dolphin at the Aquarium. She came to the Aquarium with Hana from the Enoshima Aquarium, and is also claimed to have been rescued from entanglement in a fishing net. Helen was part of a multi-year and multi-facility research project focusing on metabolic studies while she was at the Enoshima Aquarium, and is part of a pilot project to understand whale echolocation abilities to prevent whales in the future from becoming entangled in fishing nets. She is distinguishable by the fact that her pectoral flippers are partially amputated due to damage from her entanglement, and that her dorsal fin is the most hook shaped of the two.
- Kavna was estimated to be around 46 years of age at the time of her death. She was distinguishable from the other belugas by the fact that she was the whitest, due to her age. She gave birth at Vancouver Aquarium to a male calf named "Tuaq" however he died around 4 weeks later.
- Aurora is a female beluga and is around 27 years of age. She gave birth first to Qila, Tuvaq (who died in 2005) and recently Nala, who died on June 21 at around 10:15 pm due to coins and foreign matter found in her respiratory tract. "Aurora" is named after the famous northern light Aurora borealis.
- Qila is a female beluga born at the aquarium to mother Aurora and father Nanuq on July 23, 1995 (17 years old). She is the first beluga to be conceived and born in a Canadian aquarium, and is also the first beluga conceived and born in a Canadian aquarium to give birth to a calf. "Qila" means "beluga" in Inuktitut. She gave birth to her first calf Tiqa, who died of heart failure on September 16, 2011. Tiqa's name stands for T-Tuesday, I-Imaq, Q-Qila and A-aurora.
On breeding loan to SeaWorld are the following:
- Nanuq, a male beluga who is around 24 years old. Nanuq is Qila's father and is on breeding loan to SeaWorld since July 1997.
- Allua, a female beluga is around 24 years of age. She was moved to SeaWorld San Diego on a breeding loan in 2005.
- Imaq, a male beluga who is around 21 years of age. He is on breeding loan to SeaWorld San Antonio for around 5 years due to the aquarium's renovation. Imaq fathered "Tuvaq", "Tiqa", and "Nala", all of which died.
Critics of the Aquarium highlight the large number of cetacean deaths as evidence that such animals should not be held in captivity. A total of 39 captive cetaceans have died under the care of the Aquarium since its inception.
The Aquarium is home to four sea otters:
- Tanu is a 8 year old female who was abandoned as a pup, rescued by the Alaska SeaLife Center and later moved to the Aquarium.
- Elfin is a 11 year old male who was abandoned as a pup, was rescued by the Alaska SeaLife Center and later moved to the Aquarium.
- Katmai is a 8 month old female sea otter recently rescued near Homer, Alaska by the Alaska SeaLife Center on October 17, 2012 when she was only a few weeks old. Shortly thereafter, the Alaska SeaLife Center invited a rotating team of Vancouver Aquarium specialists to help provide intensive 24-hour care and rehabilitation for the pup over the next 17 weeks. After being deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service, she arrived at the Vancouver Aquarium on March 21, 2013. After an online naming contest, on April 2, 2013 the Aquarium annonced that the pup would be named Katmai after a national park in Alaska.
- Walter/Wally was found as an injured adult sea otter in Tofino, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. He had been shot by a shotgun and suffered extensive injuries as a result. After receiving critical care at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre he is now a healthy sea otter who would not survive in the ocean and has therefore been moved to the Aquarium. He is estimated to be over 10 years old.
While the Aquarium rescues and releases many seals, those that are deemed to be unreleasable may end up at the Aquarium or sold to other zoos and marine parks. The Aquarium is home to three such harbour seals at this time, all of which are male (Apollo, DaVinci, and Hermes).
The Aquarium also houses 6 Northern Fur Seals (Meechi, Tikva, Tuku, Kyoo, Aya, and Ani), and four female Steller sea lions (Willo, Ashby, Rogue, and Izzy). The sea lions actually belong to the University of British Columbia, and are part of a research program aimed at studying the causes for the collapse of the Steller sea lion population in Alaska.
At an off-site research facility, an additional 4 Steller sea lions are kept as part of an open-water research program. They are Hazy, Sitka, Boni, and Yasha.
On July 1, 2008, Tag, a 15 year old male sea lion, died due to oral cancer, despite receiving laser surgery and chemotherapy. Tag was a 15 year old male sea lion who arrived at the Aquarium as a 2 week old pup.
The Vancouver Aquarium is also home to two pacific harbour porpoises rescued by the Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. A female porpoise named Daisy was rescued from Gonzolez Beach, B.C. in 2008, and after receiving almost a year of veterinary care and being deemed nonreleasable, was transferred to the Vancouver Aquarium on July 29, 2009. A male harbour porpoise, Jack, was rescued from Horseshoe Bay, B.C. in September 2011 and transferred to the Aquarium on March 15, 2012. They now inhabit the Aquarium's B.C. Sugar pool together and are the only two harbour porpoises currently in human care in North America.
Conservation and Research Programs
The Vancouver Aquarium has created and operates a number of conservation and research programs aimed at understanding and preserving animal species in the wild.
The Vancouver Aquarium has a program called Ocean Wise, which is aimed at promoting sustainable seafood in restaurants, markets, and other food service facilities. Its main thrust is to avoid species whose fishing typically causes large bycatches, species from areas where the habitat will degrade if overfished, and species which themselves are overfished. Ocean Wise works directly with food service companies to select sustainable seafood and actively promote them to the general public. The options are highlighted on participating restaurant menus and display cases with the Ocean Wise symbol, to help consumers make environmentally friendly seafood choices. Today, well over 300 restaurants in Canada are participants in the Ocean Wise program.
Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a program that was initiated by the Vancouver Aquarium by a small group of staff members and volunteers in 1994. These employees had heard about the International Coastal Cleanup and decided to participate in it by picking up garbage at a local beach and submitting the information. The Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup is an annual international initiative aimed to engage people to remove trash and debris from the world's beaches and waterways, identify the sources of debris, and change the behaviors that cause marine debris in the first place.
Volunteers and sponsors collect and catalogue debris which is then collected for analysis on sources of garbage that enter the ocean. For example, in 2007, 1,240 beach sites with a collective length of 1,772 km were cleaned by 52,263 volunteers bringing in almost 87.5 metric tons of garbage.
Marine Mammal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program
The Vancouver Aquarium operates a Marine Mammal Rescue program which is aimed at rescuing and rehabilitating marine mammals that are found injured, ill, or abandoned, until they can be re-released into their natural habitats. On average, the Rescue Centre admits approximately 100 distressed marine mammals per year. The vast majority of these are harbour seals, but patients can include sea otters, elephant seals, Steller sea lions, harbour porpoises, and common dolphins. The program notably helped rescue Springer, an orphaned killer whale successfully released and reunited with her family pod. Other high-profile rescues include the successful returning of a beached gray whale back to the water in 2005 and the rescue of Schoona, a lost green sea turtle near Prince Rupert, BC.
B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network
The B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network is a collaborative conservation and research program between the Vancouver Aquarium and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada aimed at collecting reports and sightings of whales and sea turtles in the wild. The Sightings Network is a network of over 1,800 observers across British Columbia, including whale watching operators, lighthouse keepers, charter boat operators, tugboat captains, BC Ferries personnel, researchers, government employees, recreational boaters and coastal residents. The program aims to solicit reports through the program's website, a toll-free hotline, email, or through the logbook program.
In popular culture
The Vancouver Aquarium was featured frequently in the 1980s Canadian series, Danger Bay, which followed the day to day exploits of the Roberts family, led by Grant "Doc" Roberts, a marine veterinarian and his two children, Nicole and Jonah.
A YouTube video featuring two sea otters "holding hands" was recorded at the Vancouver Aquarium. The two sea otters are Nyac and Milo. Nyac died on September 23, 2008. She was one of the last surviving sea otters of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The video has been viewed over 19 million times on YouTube. As a result, the Vancouver Aquarium created a live Sea Otter Cam on their website. The YouTube video was originally recorded by Cynthia Holmes. Milo died on January 12, 2012.
The Vancouver Aquarium was also featured in the family film Andre (1994), and romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck (2007), as Cam's workplace. Television movie The Suite Life Movie (2011) used the Aquarium as the Research Firm where Cody Martin interns.
- Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre - Online
- "The History of Canada's Largest Aquarium". vanaqua.org. Vancouver Aquarium. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. AZA. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "Members' Directory, Accredited Institutions". caza.ca.org. CAZA. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". waza.org. WAZA. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "History of the Aquarium". Vancouver Aquarium. Retrieved 2008-06-03. "...was the first facility to incorporate professional naturalists/interpretive specialists into galleries to explain animal behaviors."
- Philip Henry Gosse (British naturalist)
- CBC News
- Vancouver, B.C. Aquarium Nets National Recognition as Outstanding Ocean Learning Center
- Narwhal (Monodon monoceros)
- Thomas, Sandra (29 November 2006). "Show us a bit more money De Genova tells aquarium". Vancouver Courier. Retrieved 2006-12-28.[dead link]
- - VANCOUVER AQUARIUM WELCOMES 2 NEW DOLPHINS
- Ocean Currents - The Marine Mammals of the Vancouver Aquarium
- Ocean Currents - The Marine Mammals of the Vancouver Aquarium
- Rescued Sea Otter Pup
- BELOVED STELLER SEA LION, TAG, SUCCOMBS TO CANCER
- AQUARIUM SEA LION RECEIVES DENTAL LASER TREATMENT AND CHEMOTHERAPY
- Spotlight on Porpoises
- "Ocean Wise" Seafood Choices Program
- Perfect prawns are Ocean Wise
- Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup - Who We Are
- Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup - What We Do
- TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup - Item Collection Highlights from 2007
- Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue - History
- Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue - Species & Range
- KOMO News - Dramatic New Rescue Plans for Whale
- About Wild Whales
- Vancouver Aquarium - The YouTube Sea Otters
- Vancouver Aquarium Press Release - Vancouver Aquarium’s Oldest Sea Otter, Nyac, Passes
- YouTube starring Vancouver Aquarium sea otter dies
- YouTube - Otters holding hands
- Famous sea otter Milo dies of cancer
- Waters is a magazine published by Canada Wide Media Limited for the official members of the Vancouver Aquarium. It is published three times a year.
Media related to Vancouver Aquarium at Wikimedia Commons