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Vancouver Aquarium staff regularly travel the world far and wide to meet others in the field and exchange ideas on how to make their facilities better. Recently, Dr. Dennis Thoney, director of animal operations, travelled to Legoland in the town of Billund, Denmark – but rather than stop off to see the impressive Lego displays, Dr. Thoney bypassed them to attend a conference at the small aquarium located there.

Billund hosted the European Union of Aquarium Curators conference last month, where the paper Dr. Thoney co-authored was presented. As the Vancouver Aquarium’s director of animal operations, Dr. Thoney has a keen interest in exhibit life support systems, and as such, his paper is about membrane filters. The Vancouver Aquarium played a role in this research, providing a place where these filters could be tested – in the sea otter habitat, though Dr. Thoney says these filters can be used in any type of exhibit.

Dr. Dennis Thoney is the director of animal operations at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Dr. Dennis Thoney is the director of animal operations at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Attending conferences is “all about talking to people,” says Dr. Thoney, highlighting the importance of stimulating conversations and creating a record of what’s been researched. It’s also a chance to catch up with colleagues and keep on top of current aquarium news. Dr. Thoney says there was buzz at this recent conference about the 2016 International Aquarium Congress, which will be hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium.

After a short time back in Vancouver, Dr. Thoney once again jumped on a plane to Monterey, California for the 2nd International Elasmobranch Husbandry Symposium. He helped organize the event and is the editor of the Elasmobranch Husbandry Manual series, first published in 2004. One of the goals of this symposium was to get submissions for the second edition, which will include updates on the latest husbandry methods for maintaining sharks, skates and rays in aquariums. It’s a big job for Dr. Thoney, who will be in charge of going through all the submitted papers and choosing which ones will make the final cut into this peer-reviewed manual.

Dr. Thoney is back in Vancouver for the time being, but he will no doubt stay in touch with his international contacts as the Aquarium prepares to unveil new galleries and exhibits next year.

Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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