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Research Outpost

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Research in Action

Walruses, Steller sea lions, and Northern fur seals that live at the Vancouver Aquarium participate in research work to help protect their wild counterparts. For the first time ever we are opening up the doors to our research centre and giving guests a look into the ground-breaking marine mammal research taking place behind the scenes.

When you visit the Research Outpost, you will see research first hand. The Aquarium’s interpreters and trainers have come together to offer special marine mammal presentations, introducing guests to these intriguing animals, demonstrating the compelling relationship between trainers and the animals, and showcasing leading-edge conservation research.

Presentations with these incredible animals will be happening throughout the day so make sure to stop by and get an up close view of our research in action.

Walruses

While iconic Arctic animals, very little is known about walruses due to limited research. Drawing on years of animal training and research experience with other marine mammal species, the Vancouver Aquarium is poised to conduct important research studies on walrus growth, metabolic rate, and immune function. The hope is that these learning will contribute to the global knowledge base as scientists work to protect wild populations.

Steller Sea Lions

Building on a strong, trusting relationship with the Aquarium’s marine mammal trainers, the Steller sea lions living at the Aquarium have become excellent research assistants. In a collaborative effort, the trainers and sea lions are working with University of British Columbia scientists to understand the mysterious disappearance of 80 per cent of the wild Steller sea lion population. Visitors can observe the trainers as they feed and care for these animals, lead enrichment exercises, and collect valuable metabolic information, such as weight, heart rate, and breathing rate; these readings contribute to ongoing studies.

Northern Fur Seals

Northern fur seals at the Aquarium have been part of a multi-year research study aimed at uncovering why wild populations have declined by 80 percent in the last 30 to 40 years. The long-term research collaboration between the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Aquarium has been measuring the fur seals’ metabolic rate, energy use, and monitoring blood work to determine what kind of diet the species needs for optimal survival and reproduction. The results are helping scientists determine what is happening to wild populations.

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