We Need Our North

Map of Canada's North

Canada's North makes up 40% of its landmass and almost 70% of its shorelines.

And it is home to some of the most iconic wildlife in the country. Most importantly, the Arctic is in the grip of unprecedented change that will have consequences that reach far beyond its icy shores.

Polar Bear
What is happening now in the Arctic provides a glimpse of our future; it is a harbinger of more devastating impacts to be seen at lower latitudes.
Dr. Michael E. Mann Climatologist and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines

As a recognized leader in connecting people to the natural world, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre has taken responsibility to ensure that the public and policymakers are aware of the issues in the Arctic and the need to protect its uncertain future.

Research that Resonates

We’ve turned our attention to Canada’s Arctic as it needs our help more than ever.

The Arctic ice is melting at an alarming rate and will soon open up to increased shipping, oil drilling and other human activities that will have a big impact on Arctic life.

Sea Ice Average Thickness

Have decreased by 65% since 1975

Sea Ice Thickness

Sea Ice Extent

September Sea Ice 1980 vs. 2012

Sea Ice Extent

Warming temperatures and shrinking sea ice affect the reproductive success of many species, alter the food web and disrupt population stability on land and in the ocean. We’re also seeing changes to disease transmission patterns, animal migration paths and an increase in invasive species.

Our scientists are leading pioneering research on how these changes will affect aquatic life. One such study involves understanding how beluga whale mothers and their calves communicate, which started with Aurora and Qila at the Vancouver Aquarium.

The Call of the Beluga video cover image

Fostering Connections

Our blue planet supports the air we breathe, the food we eat and the biodiversity we need.

As one of Canada’s first conservation organizations, Vancouver Aquarium has been inspiring visitors to take action and protect our oceans for nearly 60 years.


educational programs delivered in 2014


guests contributed to conservation through a visit to the Aquarium in 2014


member households supporting conservation in 2014

We’re now raising $28 million to connect people to Canada’s Arctic. The engaging new Canada’s Arctic Gallery will foster scientific research and conservation efforts to help protect beluga whales.

Arctic Field Notes video cover image

The expansion will provide even larger habitats for the whales and dolphins in our professional care.

Arctic Gallery

Visitors to the new Canada’s Arctic Gallery will be immersed in the rapid changes impacting the Arctic and how these environmental concerns are affecting us closer to home.

Beluga Habitat
No one will protect what they don't care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.
Sir David Attenborough Naturalist and Writer

Our Northern Presence

We have been supporting and conducting ongoing studies in Canada’s Arctic for more than four decades.

Our Arctic Connections Program brings biologists to the North each year in an effort to share knowledge and facilitate cultural exchanges between northern and southern Canadians.

Mysteries of the Narwhal video cover image

Our work also brings us to the Arctic for research collaborations, including narwhal research. Marine biologist Clint Wright returns annually to the Arctic with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to satellite-tag narwhals so we may study their travel patterns at different times of the year.

Keeping track of their population size and understanding migration patterns are important indicators of a healthy population.

Explore the work we're leading in the Arctic.

Map of Arctic Research
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    Vancouver Aquarium

    As a non-profit marine science centre, we engage more than one million visitors each year—making people aware of Arctic issues from warming temperatures to an increase in human impacts on local species.

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    Working with local schools through Vancouver Aquarium's Arctic Biodiversity curriculum programs.

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    The success of our Arctic programs also comes through our commitment to build strong relationships with the people and communities of the North through our Arctic connections program, Ikaarvik: Barriers to Bridges.

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    Cambridge Bay

    Vancouver Aquarium dive team explores the underwater world of the Arctic.

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    Gjoa Haven

    We work with citizen scientists through Ikaarvik and the Canadian Rangers Ocean Watch programs to measure physical and biological ocean conditions, including the impact of increased freshwater in Canada’s Arctic.

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    Cunningham Inlet

    We conduct original research on beluga acoustics and work collaboratively on the impacts of pollution on belugas.

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    Tremblay Sound

    Vancouver Aquarium marine biologist Clint Wright conducts narwhal tagging and population distribution research.

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    Pond Inlet

    Northern home base for our Ikaarvik Barriers to Bridges

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    Our Ikaarvik program builds bridges among scientists, Inuit communities and southern institutions, improving research collaborations and dialogue, and increasing the leadership capacity among emerging Inuit leaders.

Lead the Journey

As we pave the path to greater Arctic conservation efforts, we know the only way we’ll be successful is with your help.

Our new Canada’s Arctic shares a glimpse of the shifting ecosystem, the wildlife that depend on it, and the people and traditional knowledge being impacted. It also supports our scientists studying how human activities—including increased shipping, resource extraction and associated noise—can put Arctic life at risk.

Warming at twice the rate of the global average, our North needs our protection more than ever.

Join us in becoming an advocate for Canada's Arctic.