I spent a lot of time as a wildlife guide in the whale watching industry during the early parts of my career. I was an “expert” because I had some knowledge of whales and a microphone in my hand. But now, knowing there are genuine experts here at the Aquarium, I reached out to our research team to put together a one-of-a-kind wildlife eco-tour that would leave guests informed and amazed.

On Saturday August 9, you can join the Vancouver Aquarium on a unique wildlife eco-tour that will allow you to rub elbows with a bonafide scientist. Dr. Andrew Trites is a research associate at the Vancouver Aquarium, a professor at the UBC Fisheries Centre and Director of the UBC Marine Mammal Research Unit. He knows more about seals and sea lions than most other scientists.

Dr. Trites is conducting cutting edge research aimed at unlocking the mystery of population declines of Steller sea lions and fur seals in the North Pacific Ocean. One of the influences on population declines is explained by the nutritional stress hypothesis – that seals and sea lions are switching their diets from herring to pollock, thus exchanging a higher energy food for a lower energy one. Why would they do that?  You’ll have to ask Dr. Trites yourself!

Wildlife eco tour, Vancouver Aquarium

Wildlife spotting with Dr. Andrew Trites.

Also on this unique wildlife tour, you’ll have a chance to meet Dr. Trites’ research associates of the four-flippered variety when you make a stop at the “doctor’s office”, the Open Water Research Station. Here, you’ll get to meet the Steller sea lions that participate in open water trials where Dr. Trites records their metabolic rates when diving and foraging. The information collected at this site is critical for understanding how much energy wild sea lions expend during the day, which has a big impact on how successful they are at mating, rearing young and helping their population grow.

Afterwards, you’ll spend the rest of the tour out on the water looking for local wildlife.  Who knows what you’ll find! Seals, eagles and sea lions have all been spotted in the area. This wildlife eco tour offers families and friends an opportunity to connect with the nature that is all around us here in Vancouver. By signing up for this wildlife tour, not only will you be learning about the animals in our own backyard, but you’ll be directly contributing to the research work at the Open Water Research Station.

Spots are limited for this event and are expected to sell out. To purchase your ticket for this unique eco- tour or to learn more about Dr. Trites’ research visit our website.

Blog post by Vancouver Aquarium’s public programs manager Jonathan Hultquist MSc. Jonathan began his career in Hawaii as a wildlife guide and scientific diver. He now focuses on engaging the public with programs that increase awareness for our oceans and its creatures.  

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