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.