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Ucluelet Aquarium development flowing smoothly

The development of Ucluelet’s new aquarium facility remains on schedule to open its doors in May.

When Phillip Bruecker founded the Ucluelet aquarium in 2004 he did so with the intent that biologists would be at the forefront of an interactive and engaging educational experience.

The new aquarium will operate under the same principles of hands-on education that made the previous facility so popular amongst tourists and locals alike.

Aquarium curator Dave Hurwitz admires the new facility's progress.

Ucluelet’s new state of the art aquarium is set to open its doors in May.View Larger Image View Larger Image
Aquarium curator Dave Hurwitz admires the new facility’s progress. Ucluelet’s new state of the art aquarium is set to open its doors in May.
A. Bailey
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Brueker wanted to produce a vibe that encouraged questions directed towards visible and accessible biologists.

“As far as education goes we try to deliver it in a fun way for people and try to use humour in our talks,” says curator Dave Hurwitz.

Patrons of Ucluelet’s aquarium have no problem finding answers to their questions and are literally given a feel for ocean species through the aquarium’s ‘touch tanks;’ a feature that will continue in the new facility.

“The spirit behind our touch tanks is to help people enjoy the ocean responsibly,” says Hurwitz.

“We want to encourage people to look closer at the nature around them and to help them understand what they’re looking at,” he adds.

He considers the new aquarium facility a testament to Ucluelet’s ‘pride in place’ and attributes its development to “countless hours of volunteer work and amazing support from the community.”

“This new aquarium started with the quarters and loonies that went into our donation box. Those donations allowed us to get to a stage where we could hire architects and dream up the new building, so it really is a grassroots community project,” he says.

Construction of the new facility has remained on schedule during its development with a May arrival staying consistent throughout.

“We’ve been incredibly fortunate with very convenient nice weather when we needed it combined with a fantastic local construction crew. It’s really a dream team of carpenters,” Hurwitz explains.

“When you see the building, there’s not a right angle in it and everybody who applied locally was excited about the design and excited to work on such a unique community project,” he adds.

In addition to the much-anticipated main centre tank, which is roughly the same size as the aquarium’s former facility, there will be a total of about 40 tanks in the new facility.

In an effort to “lead by example and walk the talk of sustainability,” according to Hurwitz, many of these tanks have been recycled from old aquariums and aquatic research centres.

“We’ve saved tanks from as far north as Resolute Bay in the Arctic to as far south as Oregon. We refinished these tanks, which were basically bound for a landfill, and we’re really proud of that. You wont be able to tell they’re not brand new,” he beams.

There are still opportunities left for small businesses to obtain a tank-sponsorship and there is also a current opportunity to sponsor the aquarium’s ‘green roof,’ a uniquely innovative roof, which will contain sod and have native plants growing on it.

Tank sponsorships run between $200 through to $5,000 and help fund the costs of maintaining the tanks and keeping the specimens well nourished.

“Visitors come in and see all the local businesses that have sponsored tanks and it really shows community support. It’s neat when visitors recognize that this aquarium project is a real community endeavour,” Hurwitz notes.

He is excited to show off the facility’s “funky a west coast feel” created by its wood interior. “The building is gorgeously west coast,” he explains, “it’s beyond what we all thought it would be, it really is.”

Source: Andrew Bailey, Westerly News

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