Aquafacts / History & People

About AquaFacts

AquaFacts contain information on the Aquarium animals or other Aquarium-related topics. We’ve compiled the most popular questions about our history and people. Please email our librarian for other inquiries.

Quick info

27 million

Guests have visited the Aquarium

More than 100

Employees

More than 500

Volunteers

1956

Opening year

1967

Introduction of Professional Naturalists

Who works at the Aquarium?

An aquarium is similar to an ecosystem as numerous components must mesh together to keep the whole system running. A skilled and varied staff is needed, which includes educators, biologists, naturalists, aquarists, divers, scientists, curators, carpenters, computer specialists, horticulturists, cashiers, grounds keepers, trainers, veterinarians, accountants, artists, writers, web site developers, photographers, administrative assistants, and engineers. Most people who work at the Aquarium must have a technical diploma or certificate, a university degree, or some form of professional training. Many of the staff began their careers by volunteering at the Aquarium. It's a great place to gain experience and have fun—and every part of the Aquarium relies on the valuable help of volunteers.

How does the Aquarium survive without the support of tax dollars?

For support, the Aquarium relies on donations, proceeds from admissions, membership revenue, income from group, educational and community programs, and ClamShell Gift Shop sales on-site and online. The Aquarium employs more than 100 people, and uses the skills of more than 500 volunteers, without whom the Aquarium could not function. Of course, we depend on you and your curiosity and concern for the environment: visitors and Members are the driving force behind the Vancouver Aquarium.

Has the Aquarium always had an educational focus?

Yes: the Aquarium’s commitment to education began in 1956 as the first aquarium in North America to benefit from educational interpreters. Professional Naturalists (now called Interpreters) were introduced in 1967, adding a whole new dimension to the enjoyment and educational experience at the Aquarium. The Wet Lab, a classroom designed to introduce people to the incredible variety of marine invertebrate life in B.C.’s waters, opened its doors in 1968, giving students the opportunity to enjoy hands-on education about marine life. In 1994, the AquaVan hit the road. This mobile aquarium-truck brings a piece of the Aquarium to children province-wide through live animals and other educational props. The Aquarium unveiled the Ducks Unlimited Wetlands Discovery Centre in 1995, offering yet another opportunity to learn about B.C.’s aquatic environments.

When did the Aquarium establish an online presence?

The Aquarium established itself online during the second half of 1996. The website incorporates Aquarium news and information, a gallery tour, educational guides, online activities, booking information and links to online resources. The site promises to extend the Aquarium’s educational scope, introducing people worldwide to aquatic issues. Online education continues with the launch of the Engaging Science website. In 2006, the aquarium opened Aquaquest: The Marilyn Blusson Learning Centre. This 52,000 square foot ‘green’ building houses the brand new Canaccord Capital Exploration Gallery which includes new wetlab and class space, new gallery space and the new 170 seat Goldcorp Theatre.

Has the Aquarium been host to many celebrities over the years?

During the past 50 years the Aquarium has educated, entertained and been host to numerous celebrities and their families. In 1971, then Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau was in attendance for the official opening of the killer whale pool. On March 9, 1983, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was on hand for the official opening of the Graham Amazon Gallery. The Aquarium has also acted as the backdrop for numerous movies and television episodes, lending a unique location and cast of characters to the productions. For five years, the Aquarium was the location of the filming of Danger Bay, a Canadian television drama, now in syndication.