The first edition of Ocean Watch — a report composed of research on ocean health — focused on Howe Sound. Produced by the Coastal Ocean Research Institute (CORI), an Ocean Wise initiative, the report was the first in an annual series covering the B.C. coast, and showcases CORI’s work to monitor the health of coastal ecosystems, and produce and communicate scientific knowledge and understanding about Canada’s west coast.
Supported by the Sitka and North Growth Foundations
In April, the AquaVan 150: Connecting Communities to Coastlines tour kicked off a cross-country journey in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. During the mobile education program’s first-ever trip from coast to coast, the AquaVan team delivered programming to more than 150,000 Canadians of all ages in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island before arriving in B.C. in October.
Thank you to the Government of Canada, Imperial Oil Foundation, the Armstrong Family Foundation and more than 20 individuals for their support
Our commitment to sustainability is second to none. We know from our own research that plastic is being ingested by ocean wildlife throughout the food chain, which is why, in 2017, Vancouver Aquarium became the first zoo or aquarium in Canada to discontinue its sales of single-use plastic water bottles. Visitors are now asked to BYOB (bring your own bottle) when they come to visit, and we provide water at new filling stations.
Project funders: The Highbury Foundation and the City of Vancouver
Spirits were high at Night at the Aquarium, our annual signature fundraising gala that supports Ocean Wise® and Vancouver Aquarium®. The award-winning event brought together more than 350 foodies, wine-lovers, and ocean ambassadors on a magnificent night in June, in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary and its incredible and diverse coasts. The event raised more than $370,000 in support of our conservation, research, and education programs.
Presented by PCL Construction Group and sponsored by Leith Wheeler, LNG Canada, BDO, Beedie Development Group, Earnscliffe, MCM, Odlum Brown, Pedersen’s, Waste Control Services and Ian Telfer & Nancy Burke
On Canada Day, Vancouver Aquarium visitors first came “nose to snout” with Steller sea lions at Steller’s Bay, a new exhibit that spotlights these majestic and mysterious creatures. Transported to a fishing village on Canada’s west coast, visitors experience sea lions basking in the sun and hear them roaring in spectacular chorus. The new exhibit brings behind-the-scenes research to the forefront and allows visitors to dive into the critical role these animals play in conserving their counterparts in the wild.
Plastics never break down, but instead break up into smaller and smaller fragments, called microplastics — defined as plastic particles less than five millimetres in length. Microplastics are a growing area of focus for our Ocean Pollution Research Program. Dr. Peter Ross and his team discovered that microplastics are being ingested by zooplankton, at the bottom of the food chain, and are making their way into fish, and their predators in turn. In 2017, we also turned our attention to the role textiles play in the problem, and in the global distribution of the tiny particles.
Research funded in part by MEC, REI, Patagonia, Arc’teryx
It was an epic season of animal rescues for the team at Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, with more than 200 stranded, sick and injured marine mammals saved from B.C.’s coastal waters. Patients included 202 harbour seals, a northern fur seal, a Steller sea lion pup, a California sea lion, a sea otter pup, several animals disentangled from marine debris, and one endangered beluga whale returned to the ocean on Canada’s east coast.
Presented by the Port of Vancouver
With the addition of Hardy, the pup rescued off northern Vancouver Island in June, the population of sea otters at Vancouver Aquarium has climbed to six, and it’s a fuzzy-faced party that doesn’t quit. Whether they are diving, playing, splashing about, or holding paws while they sleep, this crew is undeniably charming. . . some may even say it’s “otterly” adorable. More than that, the otters teach visitors about their species, the vital role it plays in coastal ecosystems, and about the challenges it faces in the wild.
Over 230 donors generously supported otter care in 2017
Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.2 per cent per decade, leaving more open water and higher temperatures with growing impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. In an effort to understand and mitigate these impacts, Ocean Wise scientists spent the summer in Canada’s North in 2017, studying narwhal migration, researching beluga communication and the effects on them from climate change, documenting marine life and habitats in nearshore ecosystems, and studying the spread of microplastics. We also continued to engage Arctic communities in research, through Ikaarvik: Barriers to Bridges.
Financial support provided by POLAR Knowledge Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Sea World/Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, Kenneth Molson Foundation, NSERC, World Wildlife Fund, GREMM, Patricia Sloan & Sue Biggs
Beluga whales Aurora and Qila left a legacy for conservation science: the beluga genome. Researchers at BC Cancer’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre worked with genetic material from the mother and daughter beluga whales which were cared for at Vancouver Aquarium for almost three decades, to sequence the “genetic roadmap” for the species. It’s a tool that researchers can reference and study for years to come, and will help identify measures for recovery, management, and protection of the at-risk species.
Thank you to Genome BC for funding this research