Meet Bernie Hanby. We, at the Vancouver Aquarium, know him as the dedicated board advisor who sits on the Conservation and Education Committee. Some of you might recognize him as the co-author and photographer of the book, Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest.
Bernie recently turned 80 years old. Instead of a traditional birthday party, his friends, which include co-author Andy Lamb, thought this milestone was worthy of a big splash – a scuba dive in the chilly waters of Sechelt Inlet.
It had been a while since his last dive, so Bernie felt “a bit apprehensive” to join the group at Sakinaw Rock. Although he’d been an avid diver for the last 39 years, Bernie had spent the last 15 months taking care of his wife, who sadly passed away on October 12, 2013 after a 13 year battle with cancer.
Despite his initial hesitation, Bernie enjoyed the comfortable dive (his 1,674th!) and the great companionship. He “even managed to rattle off 28 frames.” Yes, you read that right. In this age of digital photography, Bernie is keeping it old school and using film to shoot.
Bernie’s interest in marine animals started when he fished as a kid in the U.K. That hobby gave way to underwater photography when he started diving four decades ago. He says the biggest change he’s seen off our coast is the dwindling population of rockfishes – “They’re all gone. We have just wiped the slate clean. The changes are dramatic.”
Witnessing these changes drove his passion to help establish the Marine Life Sanctuaries Society with Andy in 1989. This effort led to the establishment of the first no-take Marine Protected Area in Canada at Whytecliff Park (in West Vancouver) in 1993.
In 80 years, Bernie has done a lot for marine conservation and education. In 2003, he was presented with the Davidson Award for Conservation from Nature Vancouver for his efforts.
His involvement with the Vancouver Aquarium ensures continued opportunities to preserve the ocean he loves so much.
Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.