Take a look at this photo. Does anything look a little “off” to you?

It’s amazing how many visitors don’t notice the most noticeable thing in our new Teck Connections Gallery.

The gigantic globe hanging from the ceiling is UPSIDE DOWN.

Yes, rather than having the Arctic at the top, we are displaying it on the bottom to draw attention to this little-understood area of the world. If you stand on the stairs leading down to the lower-level Teck Engagement Gallery and look up, you will come face to face with a sheet of white. Eric Solomon, director of Arctic programs, says the ice cover displayed on top of the Arctic is the 2012 sea ice minimum – the lowest on record. It’s just one of many Arctic stories that we want to share with you.

Eric says the Aquarium “sits right in the intersection of research and education.” We play a bridging role by engaging people and organizations across the country. He says, “We’re not going to solve all the problems we need to solve if we don’t have this dialogue.” With the Arctic warming and changing at an unprecedented rate, it’s crucial that we start talking.

The Aquarium is not new to visiting the Arctic and making connections. In 1968, founding executive director Dr. Murray Newman, his colleagues and other intrepid travelers set out on an exploratory trip. Since then, Aquarium staff have continued to travel to the Arctic for research, animal collection and relationship building.

Left: In 1972, the Aquarium was gifted with a narwhal skull by members of the Pond Inlet community. That same skull continues to be used at the Aquarium today (right). In this photo, an elder from the same community shares his knowledge of the Arctic whale with our staff.

Left: In 1972, the Aquarium was gifted with a narwhal skull by members of the Pond Inlet community. Right: That same skull continues to be used as an educational tool at the Aquarium today. In this photo, an elder from the same community shares his knowledge of the Arctic whale with our staff.

Vancouver Aquarium associate researcher Dr. Valeria Vergara just returned from the Arctic where she continued to study belugas calls. In October, youth from Nunavut will visit us and share their perspectives to staff, visitors and local scientists. About our mulit-pronged approach Eric says, “We’re just scratching the surface, but in the most powerful way our organization can, and I think we’re making progress.”

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

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