$8 million aquarium opens on Vancouver Island

    SIDNEY, BC, June 15 /CNW/ - The vibrant underwater world of the Salish
Sea, on Canada's Pacific Coast, will be revealed in the seaside town of
Sidney, B.C. when the new $8-million Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre opens this
    Thousands of fish, invertebrates, and marine plant life will be at home
here in 87 tonnes of seawater contained in seventeen massive aquarium
habitats. The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre offers visitors a chance to see the
amazing diversity of the Georgia Basin, an inland sea known as the Salish Sea,
from the giant Pacific octopus to microscopic plankton. Here they'll find
wolf-eels lurking in caverns, anemones, sea stars, sea cucumbers, and
colourful rockfish. One of the many highlights is to visit research projects
all over the world through real-time live video.
    The 930-square-metre (10,000-square-foot) waterfront location is designed
as a bridge from 'seafloor to seashore'. Visitors start their journey with the
sensation of descending into the ocean in the deep-sea 'elevator'. They arrive
at the Gallery of the Drifters where algae, delicate jellies, and other
plankton float in backlit aquariums.
    From here, visitors move to The Ocean's Heartbeat, a high-tech classroom
with video microscopes, Internet links to undersea sites, and live specimens
to study with help from educators. As many as 8,000 school students a year are
    Large aquarium habitats house local marine life in the Gallery of the
Salish Sea. A Salish paddle song accompanies a life-sized orca swimming across
a giant video screen. The works of First Nations artisans help tell the story
of their ancient relationship with the ocean.
    Emerging from the Gallery of the Salish Sea, visitors walk beneath the
den of a live octopus. The journey continues to the seashore, where people
inside and outside the building get their hands wet in touch pools filled with
intertidal life.
    Reflecting Sidney's small-town atmosphere, the centre's presentation
style is 'conversational', says Angus Matthews, executive director.
'Oceaneers' are on hand to answer questions, often aided by short video clips
depicting marine life of the Salish Sea.
    With its educators, Internet links, presentations and rotating exhibits
by prominent West-Coast scientists, the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre's focus is
conservation of the Salish Sea.
    "We have every teaching tool and learning resource I could ever imagine
in this amazing discovery centre," says Educator Linda Funk, "Our Oceaneers
will inspire visitors of all ages to explore, discover, and cherish the
    "It's our hope that people will take from here a deeper appreciation of
issues affecting our ocean, and think about their own impact on the local
environment." Funk adds, "In fact, we ask them to make a promise to the ocean
before they leave."
    Sidney is the gateway to the Canadian Gulf Islands and American San
Juans. Beyond the discovery centre, which is dominated by spectacular views of
the ocean and snow-capped Mt. Baker, visitors can embark on adventures in the
Salish Sea, including whale watching, bird watching, and beach walks.
    "The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre is a place of wonder," says Matthews.
"We need to learn about and cherish this dynamic eco-system. After all, our
ocean lives here."
    More information is available at www.oceandiscovery.ca. The Town of
Sidney is on Vancouver Island, ten minutes from the BC Ferries terminal at
Swartz Bay, and from Victoria International Airport. There are direct flights
to Victoria from many Canadian and US cities, as well as daily ferry service
from Washington State and from the B.C. mainland near Vancouver.

For further information:

For further information: For media information and outstanding hi-res
images, contact Rosemarie Enslin, PR & Marketing Manager, Shaw Ocean Discovery
Centre, pr@oceandiscovery.ca, tel: (250) 665-3800

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