Orca breaching near Morro Bay, courtesy of Mike Baird
Sea Lions, courtesy of Laskeek Bay Conservation Society
Sea otters in Morro Bay, courtesy of City of Morro Bay
Minke Whale, by John Calambokidis
845 Avison Way
Vancouver, BC Canada
April – September
6:00am – 9:00pm, daily
October - March
7:00am – 6:00pm, daily
Lodging, Picnic Facilities, Restrooms, Trails, Wheelchair Accessible
The Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise® initiative, is home to thousands of incredible ocean species and amazing aquatic life. It’s also Ocean Wise headquarters, where our scientists, educators and conservation experts do their work, not only to protect our oceans but to inspire others to join us in our mission. Since opening in 1956, the Vancouver Aquarium has connected more than 40 million people from around the world to our oceans and all the wonders within them.
The Vancouver Aquarium is home to rescued sea otters, harbor seals, and a Pacific white-sided dolphin. The Aquarium also has Steller sea lions, Northern fur seals, and walruses as part of their Marine Mammal Energetics and Ecology Program. The goal is to conduct research under precise scientific conditions with highly trained animals, to directly facilitate the conservation of their declining wild populations.
WHERE THE WHALES ARE
Bigg’s killer whales travel past the Aquarium and venture into Vancouver harbour a few times a year to hunt for harbour seals, which can be seen frequently from shore. As you travel along the seawall and under the Lions Gate Bridge towards Third Beach, you may be lucky enough to spot harbour porpoises and Steller sea lions foraging close to shore. Grey whales have also made the occasional appearance.
MARINE MAMMAL RESEARCH PROGRAM
Ocean Wise has a long tradition of research on cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). Since the mid-1980s, their Marine Mammal Research Program has conducted conservation-oriented research on killer whales, belugas, and other marine mammals. The Program’s particular strengths are in cetacean distribution and abundance, acoustic behaviour, population genetics and, most recently, photogrammetric monitoring of health and condition of killer whales and humpback whales. Much of this research is funded by the Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program, which raises funds through symbolic adoptions of B.C.’s killer whales. In 2002, the Aquarium was a co-lead for the Springer project, and played a key role in the successful rehabilitation and release of the orphaned killer whale. The Marine Mammal Research team assists with yearly monitoring to check on her continued progress. You can read more about their killer whale research here: https://killerwhale.vanaqua.org/.
B.C. CETACEAN SIGHTINGS NETWORK
The Marine Mammal Research Program is also home to the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network (BCCSN), one of Canada’s longest-running and most successful citizen science programs. The BCCSN relies on mariners and coastal citizens as the primary source of information about the distribution and habitat use of whales, dolphins, porpoises, and sea turtles. Data are collected by observers and reported in a standardized way via the WhaleReport app. The BCCSN monitors the distribution and abundance of at-risk marine mammal species. The BCCSN database, which now contains over 115,000 sightings, enables the protection of essential habitat, highlights areas of high risk to these vulnerable species and allows for targeted outreach and mitigation to reduce these threats and directly support the recovery of these species. Observers are recruited to the volunteer network through educational presentations and training workshops on cetacean and sea turtle identification, natural history, and conservation. You can learn more at http://wildwhales.org/.