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Belugas swimming in Quebec's St. Lawerence estuary

Research makes a real-world impact

Six decades ago, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre opened as a small outpost in Stanley Park to teach local residents about the marine life in their own backyard. It’s amazing how we’ve grown. This year, we celebrated our 60th anniversary as a leading marine science organization committed to marine conservation, research and education on a global scale.

Our fieldwork plays a huge role in reaching that aim. From monitoring killer whale populations with cutting-edge drone technology to engaging the public in wildlife surveys, our experts are dedicated to increasing our collective knowledge of the underwater world.

This summer, Aquarium research associate Dr. Valeria Vergara applied her expertise to saving endangered beluga whales in Quebec’s St. Lawrence Estuary, where wild populations have plummeted from 10,000 individuals in the 1880s to around 900 today. Building on her work with wild belugas in Nunavut’s Cunningham Inlet, Vergara is investigating whether noise pollution from shipping and industrial activity may be interfering in contact calls between mothers and calves — calls she originally identified at the Aquarium by working with mother-son belugas Aurora and Tuvaq.

Vergara’s groundbreaking work is shedding light on the mystery surrounding the decline of belugas in the Saint Lawrence, and could help set standards and policies that will reduce the impact of human activity on these intensely social whales and other marine life.

It’s just one example of the way our researchers are contributing to a better understanding of how marine species are being affected by human activity in our rapidly changing world — and what we can do to protect them for future generations.

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West Coast Trail Cleanup team
Cleaning bouys off the beach
Cleanup team putting garbage into bag

Green action for our blue planet

Just like our oceans, our message of marine conservation defies borders and boundaries. In 2016, that message travelled farther and wider than ever before. More importantly, it led to concrete action in support of healthier oceans, lakes and rivers.

For our Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup®, a partnership between the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF-Canada, 2016 was a banner year. More than 75,000 Canadians participated in over 2,000 cleanups of shorelines across the country, making this the most successful year in the program’s 23-year history.

The spectacular showing of environmental action included some awe-inspiring feats — including our single biggest cleanup yet. In September, 10,000 people came out to clean 11 parks throughout Toronto as part of Centennial College’s 50th anniversary celebrations, diverting more than 4,000 kilograms of trash from our waterways. Meanwhile, an Aquarium-led team paired up with Parks Canada to clean five kilometres of Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail for the third year running, and closer to home, our own staff and volunteers continued to collect trash on lunchtime cleanups near our facilities in Stanley Park.

Our corporate sponsors also upped their conservation game this year, with Loblaw Companies Limited completing 135 cleanups — an increase of 50 percent from 2015. We also gained some important new partners in our effort to bring sustainable seafood options to more Canadians. Overwaitea Food Group joined our Ocean Wise® program in September, bringing ocean-friendly seafood choices to some of western Canada’s largest grocery chains. And one of Canada’s preeminent chef’s, Ned Bell, joined Ocean Wise as the program’s first executive chef, making him a go-to resource for sustainable culinary education across the country.

Stats

  • 2,320 Shoreline Cleanups
  • 20,000 K-12 students participating in shoreline cleanups
  • 35% Increase in corporate cleanups from 2015
  • 675+ Ocean Wise® partners across Canada
  • 1,440 Plastic drink bottles removed from the West Coast Trail
  • 135 Harbour seals rescued, rehabilitated and released
  • 1 Green sea turtle rehabilitated and released
  • 17,000 Volunteer hours at our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

Take Action

Our oceans need our help, and the Vancouver Aquarium is a great place to start. The more of us who pitch in, the better our world will be. Please consider getting involved—you can take action in all kinds of ways, and every little bit means a whole lot.

Choose to consume only Ocean Wise sustainable seafood, and visit Ocean Wise restaurants and retailers.

Provide a few days each year to your community’s shoreline cleanup through our Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

Donate your time or your financial support to wild animals in need through our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

Reduce your role in the changing Arctic by using only what you need and being aware of the environmental impacts of the products you purchase.

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Dying sea star losing arm
Sea start wasting
Sea urchin take over
Underwater sea stars

Getting a clearer picture of our underwater world

Much of life under the ocean’s surface remains a mystery — even for our experts. Understanding the complex relationship between organisms in our aquatic environment compels our researchers and scientists in their work every day. So when sea stars all along North America’s Pacific Coast started dying from a mysterious condition in 2013, our biologists were quick to join the international effort to find out what this means for our oceans.

This year, our Howe Sound Research Program, part of the Coastal Ocean Research Institute, published an important study that fills in a crucial part of the picture. With a 90 per cent decline in the population of sunflower sea stars in Howe Sound since 2013, there has been an explosion in its primary prey species: sea urchins. In turn, the proliferation of these spiny sea creatures has had its own effect on the underwater kelp beds that comprise a unique part of our coastal ecosystem. Without predators to keep populations in check, sea urchins have been "clear-cutting" kelp and depleting important habitat for shrimp, spot prawns, crabs and other common invertebrates.

While the mystery of sea star wasting syndrome remains unsolved, documenting its domino effect contributes to a better understanding of how life in our subtidal zones is intertwined. And with our researchers contributing quality baseline data, the scientific community can better understand how our oceans are adapting to a quickly changing world.

Stats

  • 6,121 Minutes in underwater dives in Howe Sound
  • 243 Species logged in Howe Sound taxonomy
  • 9,000 Sightings reported to the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network
  • 95 Days on the water with the Howe Sound Research Program
  • 2,531 Oregon spotted and northern leopard frog tadpoles raised and released into the wild

Take Action

Our oceans need our help, and the Vancouver Aquarium is a great place to start. The more of us who pitch in, the better our world will be. Please consider contributing to our research or providing financial support to us as a not-for-profit organization.

Consider adopting a whale in the wild through our Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program.

Share your powers of observation with our BC Cetacean Sightings Network.

Join the Howe Sound Group to contribute to the monitoring, research and conservation of fish and invertebrates in Howe Sound.

Support our Ocean Pollution Research or Beluga Research programs.

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AquaCamps dissection class
AquaCamps beach walks
AquaCamp children having fun

Nurturing a passion for the natural world

The future of our blue planet lies in teaching children to protect and respect this most valuable resource. Nothing achieves that goal better than allowing kids to witness the wonders of our underwater world firsthand.

Our AquaCamps give children an opportunity to spend concentrated time exploring the marine environment alongside our skilled educators — and get their hands wet! This year, more than 1,700 kids flowed through our camp programs, blowing past our targets and filling many to capacity. From preschool to high school, our onsite camps engaged more kids than ever through experiential activities such as cleaning the shores of Stanley Park, discovering aquatic ecosystems in our new Betsy and Winslow Bennett Learning Lab, and feeding sick and injured animals at our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

But we also went further afield. This summer, our camps expanded to include a five-night SeaQuest program at Camp Fircom on Gambier Island. With Howe Sound acting as an outdoor classroom, nine campers were immersed in the coastal habitat of our region, instilling an appreciation for and understanding of the natural world that is sure to last a lifetime.

Meanwhile, our school programs continued to grow, with more than 25,000 students reached through on-site or live video sessions and thousands more engaged through our mobile AquaVan and AquaZone. The Vancouver Aquarium also continued to be a valuable resource for educators through our professional development workshops.

Stats

  • 1,717 Children enrolled in AquaCamps
  • 784 School programs delivered
  • 33,686 Hours of teaching time delivered across all our education programs
  • 16,474 Students reached through AquaVan
  • 4,007 Students reached through AquaZone

Take Action

Our oceans need our help, and the Vancouver Aquarium is a great place to start. Please consider supporting our conservation efforts by taking part in one of our education programs.

Think about booking the AquaVan, or making a donation to the Bennett Bursary to send students to the Aquarium.

Give your child an educational experience never to be forgotten and register for AquaCamp.

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Vancouver Aquarium Front Entrance
Vancouver Aquarium Green Team

Reducing our enviromental impact by design

Our commitment to sustainability isn’t just reflected in our messaging, our campaigns and our programs; it’s in our bones too.

In June, we were thrilled to once again receive recognition for our efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our buildings. For the second time, the Aquarium was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification from the Canada Green Building Council.

The prestigious designation recognizes the sustainable design and building practices that went into the first phase of our expansion, completed in 2014. The 4,500-square-metre space — including our Ocean Courtyard, Ocean Wise Café, seasonal Waterfall Café, and Teck Galleries — is one of just 2,500 LEED certified buildings in Canada, and builds on a precedent we set in 2008 when we became the first zoo or aquarium in the world to attain LEED Gold status with our Aquaquest building.

But earning this designation is much more than just a feather in our cap; it’s an indication of our ongoing efforts to reducing our impact on the natural world. From growing native plants and grasses in our landscaping, to collecting rainwater for our irrigation and toilet systems, to using heat from our kitchens to keep our animals comfortable and healthy in their habitats, we've done our best to ensure our home is an example of sustainability in action. And that’s the real prize.

Stats

  • 8 Years Our Environmental Management System has been ISO14001 certified
  • 74% Of waste diverted from landfill
  • 1,871,300 Compostable containers purchased
  • 12% Reduction in electricity use per square foot over 2009 baseline year
  • 23% Reduction in natural gas per square foot over 2009 baseline year
  • 28% Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per square foot over 2009 baseline year
  • 215,000 Litre capacity of our rainwater collection reservoirs

Take Action

Our oceans need our help, and the Vancouver Aquarium is a great place to start. We continuously strive to lessen our negative environmental impact. You can join us in our mission; every sustainable choice counts.

Consider walking, biking, or taking public transit to reduce your carbon footprint.

Pack a reusable mug or bottle when you leave home to reduce unnecessary waste.

Use a rain barrel to collect and store rainwater for watering plants to reduce demand on municipal water sources.

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Photo of a band performing at the Vancouver Aquarium Night At The Aquarium

Night at the Aquarium

Night at the Aquarium, presented by PCL Construction Group Inc., is our signature fundraising gala.

Photo taken at the Vancouver Aquarium Toast to the Coast event

Toast to the Coast

Vancouver’s hottest ticket, Toast to the Coast, presented by CIBC, is a chic fundraising event with an urban edge featuring delicious Ocean Wise tastings, B.C. wines and an incredible silent auction.

Photo taken at the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown event

Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown

Canada’s top chefs compete live with their original, sustainable chowders for the coveted title of Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Guests are invited to sample delectable chowders, with paired beers, and cast their vote for People’s Choice.

Photo taken at the Vancouver Aquarium's Dreamnight event

Dreamnight

On this special night, we open our doors to more than 600 children living with life-threatening illnesses and their families. As many of these children are unable to visit during regular hours, Dreamnight, presented by Shaw Communications, provides an opportunity for our guests to connect with aquatic life in a private setting.

Showcasing our work in style

Our signature events bring our community together to celebrate and support the work we do. They also give us a chance to show our gratitude and give back.

Dreamnight holds a special place in our hearts. Our staff and volunteers donate their time to host children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses for a night of aquatic amazement. This year, more than 600 courageous children and their families attended this invite-only event, making it a highlight of our year.

Night at the Aquarium, our premier fundraising gala presented by PCL Construction Group Inc., reached new heights as we celebrated our 60th anniversary with an elegant six-course dinner featuring delectable — and sustainable — dishes from local chefs. Our enthusiastic guests bid on silent and live auction items and helped us raise $460,000 for Aquarium programs — our most successful soiree yet!

Our annual Toast to the Coast, presented by CIBC, also hit a milestone this year as it marked a decade of bringing together the business community in support of food, wine and conservation. Guests enjoyed Ocean Wise eats, sipped beer and wine from British Columbia producers and contributed to our conservation, education and research programs in style.

Meanwhile, the annual Chowder Chowdown cook-off crowned champions of sustainable seafood in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. These simmering events raised funds in support of Ocean Wise and awareness of overfishing as one of the biggest threats facing our oceans.

To all who made our 60th anniversary year such a success, we say: salut!

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Vancouver Aquarium AquaVan presented by BC Hydro

BC Hydro

Presenting sponsor of AquaVan.

Vancouver Aquarium Wet Lab supported by Betsy Bennett

Betsy Bennett

Long-time volunteer, patron and major supporter of education programs and infrastructure.

Overwaitea Food Group now carries Ocean Wise sustainable seafood

Overwaitea Food Group

Proud partner of Ocean Wise® and the Vancouver Aquarium.

Sitka Foundation and North Growth Foundation supports the Vancouver Aquarium Coastal Ocean Research Institute

Sitka Foundation & North Growth Foundation

Founding funding partners of the the Coastal Ocean Research Institute.

Gifts come in many forms

We believe every individual has a role to play in keeping our oceans, rivers and lakes healthy for future generations. No one embodies this more than our dedicated volunteers. Whether they’re educating children about the wonders of aquatic life, caring for sick and injured animals at our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, or collecting data through animal observations, our volunteers play a crucial role in helping us deliver our world-class programs.

This year, one individual gave us a gift that will last beyond a lifetime. A Vancouver Aquarium member for more than 30 years and a volunteer since 2010, Bob Ostle is a fixture at our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, where he helped rehabilitate and release Levi, the first harbour porpoise to be released in Canadian waters in 2013.

With a background in fundraising, Bob made another valuable contribution to the Aquarium this year, when he helped us establish a legacy giving program. Thanks to Bob and the other members of our Legacy Giving Committee, individuals can now support the Vancouver Aquarium with a range of planned gifts and bequests, both during their lifetimes and beyond.

Bob is just one of thousands of individual and corporate supporters whose generosity makes it possible to continue the work we do. We appreciate every contribution — whether it’s a gift of time, money or a great idea.

Board & Patrons

Patrons

We would like to extend a warm thank you to our Patrons for their significant and valued contributions to aquatic conservation. To be nominated as a Patron is the Aquarium’s highest level of recognition.

  • Marilyn and Dr. Stewart Blusson, OC
  • Joanne and Peter Brown, OBC
  • May Brown, CM, OBC
  • Nicole Clouthier
  • Tom and Peggy English
  • Ursula (Kim) Fisher
  • Margaret Fisher
  • Catherine Fraser
  • The Honourable John A. Fraser, OC, OBC
  • Don and Margaret Garnett
  • Isabelle J. Graham
  • Bernard Hanby
  • Dr. Richard O. Hooper
  • W.R. Hourston
  • Mary C. Jordan
  • Lily and Robert H. Lee, CM, OBC
  • Lucile and Dr. Peter MacKay
  • Dr. Patrick McGeer, OC, OBC and Edith McGeer
  • The Honourable John L. Nichol, CC and Roseanne Nichol
  • Rudy North, CM and Patricia North
  • Jim Pattison, OC, OBC and Mary Pattison
  • Jane Rogers
  • Jane E. Van Roggen, CM
  • Brooke and Tracey Wade
  • Shirley Waldichuk
  • Maurice and Stacy White

In memory

  • Patricia Angus
  • Joanne and William Barker
  • Betsey Bennett
  • Graham R. Dawson
  • Flo FitzGerald
  • James S. Graham
  • Dr. William S. Hoar, OC
  • Evelyn Hourston
  • Joyce MacCrostie Shives
  • Robert E. McLaren
  • Dr. Ian McTaggart-Cowan, OC, OBC
  • Dr. Murray A. Newman, CM, OBC and Katherine Newman
  • Arthur Phillips
  • The Honourable Robert G. Rogers
  • P.R. Sandwell
  • Jean MacMillan Southam, CM
  • Walt Walmesley
  • Mary Margaret and Maurice Young

Board of Directors

  • Barbara Atkinson
  • Christian Baxter
  • Karam Bayrakal
  • Rizwan Gehlen, Treasurer
  • Janet Landucci
  • James Lyman
  • Marian MacFarlane
  • Shelley-Mae Mitchell
  • Barbara Meens Thistle
  • Derral Moriyama, Chair
  • Randy Pratt, Vice-Chair & Secretary
  • David Rebak
  • TJ Schmaltz
  • Scott Shepherd
  • Dixie Sullivan
  • John Webster

Govenors' Council

Members of our Governors’ Council are former Directors and who continue to serve the Aquarium with passion, dedication and commitment. We extend our deepest gratitude for their contributions.

  • Amyn Abdula
  • D. Ainsworth
  • Joan Anderson
  • Dr. David Anderson
  • Betsy Bennett
  • Ron Bertram
  • Mark Betteridge
  • Judy Bishop
  • Dale Boniface
  • Pam Boparai
  • Daniel Bouillon
  • Richard Bradshaw
  • Jacob Brouwer
  • Karen Bruk
  • Mary Buttery
  • Stephanie Carlson
  • Patricia Chew
  • James Christakos
  • Karen Cook
  • Marian Coombs-Bucci
  • Allan Copping
  • Dr. Isabelle Coté
  • Ian Davidson
  • Mike Delesalle
  • Count Enrico Dobrzensky
  • Edward Donaldson
  • Gary Duke
  • Peter Dutton
  • Alissa Ehrenkranz
  • Christine Elliott
  • Dr. R. English
  • Tom English
  • Pauline Fairley
  • Dr. Ward Falkner
  • Mary-Ann Fowler
  • Allen Fowlis
  • Russell Fraser
  • Kenneth Galbraith
  • Robert Gayton
  • Jim Gillis
  • Richard Glickman
  • Joseph Granato
  • Sally Greenwood
  • Steve Halliday
  • Brian Hanna
  • Patti Hanneson-Hatch
  • David Harper
  • Robert Harper
  • David Harris
  • Kirk Herrington
  • Diane Hill
  • James Ho
  • Dr. David Hoar
  • Stephen Holmes
  • Dr. Akira Horii
  • Doug Horswill
  • Stephen Hume
  • Ainsley Jackson
  • Lawrence Jacobson
  • David James
  • Mary Jordan
  • Bob Joseph
  • Graham Lee
  • Samantha Legge
  • Donald Lindsay
  • Dr. Casimir Lindsey
  • Fraser Liptrot
  • Dan London
  • David Main
  • Jane Maisonville-Phillips
  • Peter Malcolm
  • Sarah McAlpine
  • Grace McCarthy
  • Dr. Scott McKinley
  • Bruce McLean
  • Grant Mebs
  • Peter Miles
  • Dr. Lynn Miller
  • Nick Miller
  • Dr. Thomas G. Northcote
  • Dr. Phil Nuytten
  • Beverley O’Neil
  • Derek Page
  • Scott Palmer
  • Ryan Patryluk
  • Joyce Pearkes
  • Anne Penman
  • Dr. Tony Pitcher
  • Suzanne Poole
  • George Puil
  • Chris Reid
  • Dr. John Reynolds
  • R. John Rogers
  • Dan Rollins
  • Dr. Richard Routledge
  • Don Safnuk
  • Michael Satterfield
  • Leo Sauve
  • Tristan Sawtell
  • Dr. Joseph Segal, OC, OBC
  • Richard Self
  • Wei Shao
  • Paddy Sherman
  • Shawn Siak
  • Audrey Sojonky
  • Margot Spence
  • Bruce Sprague
  • David Stadnyk
  • Daniel Steiner
  • Mark Stevens
  • Ray Stevenson
  • Eileen Stewart
  • Dr. Eric Taylor
  • Bonnie Teng
  • Andrea Thomas Hill
  • Gerry Thorne
  • Dr. Sheila Thornton
  • Mark Tindle
  • Kenneth Tolmie
  • Dr. Andrew Trites
  • Chuck van der Lee
  • Cameron Walker
  • Paul Williams
  • Duncan Wilson
  • Lisa Woodward
  • Norm Yurik

Take Action

Our oceans need our help, and the Vancouver Aquarium is a great place to start. Please consider supporting our conservation efforts by providing financial support to us as a not-for-profit organization. You can take action in all kinds of ways, and every little bit means a whole lot.

Buy a membership and you'll experience a whole new level of access to the Aquarium and our incredible marine life.

Attend one of our festive signature fundraising events.

Provide much-needed and greatly appreciated financial support through your company or on your own.