Vancouver Aquarium and Japan

Over the last 50 years the Vancouver Aquarium has developed enduring international ties with some of Japan’s greatest aquariums. The Fukushima Aquarium is most familiar in that they have lots of public education and research. The two have worked together on various projects, including the Japanese experts sharing their knowledge of jellyfish culture and displays, Dr. John Nightingale, President of the Vancouver Aquarium, told me recently. “Jellyfish are now by weight the most numerous animal in the ocean – because we’ve taken too many fish out of the oceans, the jellyfish have moved in and taken over the niche”, Dr. Nightingale commented.

As well, the Vancouver White Sided Dolphins are from Japan. They were rescued when they were stranded in fishing nets. “So the Vancouver Aquarium’s scientists are working on better understanding the dolphin’s sonar capacity and what humans could do to help dolphins see the nets and better avoid them,” Dr. Nightingale explained. “That work goes on with both the aquariums as well as a couple of universities in Japan.”

jellyfish at an aquariumDue to the recent earthquake, several Vancouver staff members are headed to Japan this week to see the Fukushima Aquarium employees. The Fukushima attraction sits right on the seashore. “The tsunami came up a story and a half and wiped out every electrical system in the building. So they transferred the mammals and the penguins out, but most of the fish died. It’s inside the evacuation zone for the Diechi Nuclear Plant, so the staff are now all in Tokyo,” Dr. Nightingale continued.

“They will fix the Aquarium in time, but this has been a monstrous stress on the staff.” So the Vancouver Aquarium dedicated $1 from every general admission from March 18th to 25th to the Fukushima Aquarium employees, collecting a total of $18,295 which has been rounded up to $20,000. It will be given to the Fukushima Aquarium Director to help ease some of his staff’s problems, such as their need for temporary living accommodations, and new cars – all the employee’s cars that were in the parking lot got totaled when the tsunami hit.

The Fukushima Aquarium offered a beautiful experience in a beautiful building, but it will take a long time to restore. First, the nuclear problem needs to be solved.

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Alison Wheatley

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