This summer, I swam across English Bay in Vancouver to raise funds for the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, which relies on donations and volunteers for its important work. I’m happy to report I had a successful crossing. I crossed the Bay in 4.25 hours, officially making me the slowest swimmer to complete the journey from West Vancouver to Kits Beach, but it’s still not bad for a prairie girl!
Why did I decide to swim across English Bay for the Aquarium? It all started several years ago, before my husband Sacha and I moved to Vancouver, when we visited the Aquarium as tourists. I was fascinated by the creatures and educational exhibits. One of the most memorable experiences occurred in front of the beluga habitat, where one of the staff members described how wasting energy had a direct impact on our oceans and creatures within its depths, like beluga whales. To this day whenever my husband or I leave a light on, we call out to the other ‘beluga!’ as a reminder to shut off the lights.
So when I decided to swim for charity, the Aquarium was an obvious choice because of the important conservation work it does and because of the impact it had on me.
Thinking back to that ‘beluga seminar’, it’s incredible to think of the impact such a simple message has had on my daily habits and likely those of many other visitors. To me, the Aquarium symbolizes so much more than just an enjoyable place to spend an afternoon. Through messages of inspiration, conservation, and compassion, the Aquarium provides a lasting impact on the community and its many visitors.
To me this is the legacy of the Aquarium. Beyond the obvious aquatic connection to my swim, raising funds for the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre allowed me not only to support some amazing animals but also to help ensure the local jewel that is the Aquarium continues to educate future visitors – each of whom will hopefully walk away with a special conservation message of his or her own.
By Jylian Russell, guest blogger