When visiting the Vancouver Aquarium, you may be coming to see our quirky penguins or playful sea otters, but what makes a visit extra special is our fun team of frontline and back-of-house staff. They are the ones with the inviting smile that can answer all your questions, or even point out the sloth hidden high above in the trees of our free flight Amazon Gallery. They also help the Aquarium run smoothly day to day. Our staff and volunteers take great pride in providing an exceptional visitor experience – each in their own different way. Today, you will get up close and personal with four of these amazing individuals.
Paul M., Stockroom Coordinator
Paul has been working at the Aquarium for two and a half years now, but when asked about his passion for marine biology, he’ll tell you that it started long before that.
“I started as an work experience student eight years ago. I loved guiding the kids around the aquarium and even considered a career in marine biology.”
So when the opportunity to work at the Aquarium came up; he took it and never looked back. “I love working here because every day is different and brings new challenges. There is never a dull moment, that’s for sure!”
For this reason, his favourite part of the day is coming in early and sitting at his favourite spot – the shark habitat. Paul loves sitting in front of the giant glass before we open and quietly observing Schoona, the green sea turtle and the sharks.
Another one of his favourite aquarium moments? “I always recommend the dive shows either at the shark habitat or the Strait of Georgia exhibit.” They do not happen every day so check with a staff or volunteer on the day of your visit.
Naoki Y., Customer Service Ambassador and Food Services Representative
Naoki has always wanted to work at the aquarium to answer his never-ending questions about the sea otters and the sloths. Three years ago, he started volunteering and began connecting with visitors as a gallery greeter. Naoki’s interest in our aquatic world has never stopped but he has now found his true passion in interacting with our visitors from all around the world. “It is a great way to get a glimpse of different cultures and places that I may never experience otherwise.” “Since starting at the Vancouver Aquarium, I really appreciate the interactions I have with visitors”. The conversations can take you anywhere, sometimes related to our animals and sometimes not.
Stephanie C., Guest Services Lead
On her 7th birthday, Stephanie opened her newest book about cetaceans and pinnipeds and fell in love with the ocean. Later, in 2001, an orca whale named Springer was rescued and rehabilitated by the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. Inspired by this amazing event, she volunteered her every afternoon and weekend here at the aquarium to educate others on how amazing the aquatic world is and what we can do to preserve it. Stephanie’s most life changing event was Divers Weekend in January 2011. She was always intrigued by diving, but never knew how easy or popular it really was! Stephanie was out that September (in pretty chilly waters) getting her Open Water Dive License! “It’s incredible that I’ve been here eight years running, having made unforgettable memories, experienced amazing local diving and continued to learn a ton about the ocean.” When asked about what advice Stephanie would give to our visitors, she says, “Take the time to stop and look at everything. Even the smallest habitats will continuously surprise you with how many unique animals there are and how much there is to learn.”
Paolo A., Grounds Attendant
Paolo first started visiting the aquarium three years ago as a member. “I loved coming in and taking pictures of the animals, especially the sea otters. They’re my favourite!”
Paolo eventually joined the team as a volunteer gallery educator, engaging visitors with props, and then started as a staff member just under a year ago. “I started on one of the busiest days of August last summer,” he says in a very matter-of-fact tone. A busy day can overwhelm even the most senior staff, let alone a brand new one, but Paolo loved working at the Aquarium right away and takes great pride in helping visitors with simple directional questions or even more complex questions about the animals.
“I love sharing what I know. I have learned so much in the last year and I am still learning more every day.” His tip to visitors? “Spend some extra time on the marine mammal decks, but look up and around! You may get the chance to see a few unexpected guests from the park such as blue herons, eagles and even hummingbirds.”
Interested in becoming part of the Vancouver Aquarium team? Learn more about our volunteer opportunities, work experience programs, interships and practicums.