Starting this weekend, visitors to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre will get a special, rare glimpse of life in Canada’s Arctic—and the threat it faces from climate change.

Beginning Saturday, Oct. 17, the Aquarium is shining a spotlight on the fragile ecosystems and the unprecedented changes taking place in the North. Visitors will be immersed in a new perspective gained through special exhibits, programming and a rare chance to meet some of the Arctic’s most spectacular species. Over the coming months, visitors can get nose-to-beak with the Arctic’s majestic gyrfalcon, meander through the Arctic maze in the Ocean Courtyard, and hear from Aquarium researchers about the precarious state of our North, which is vanishing before our eyes.

“Canada’s Arctic, which is 40 per cent of our country, is facing an uncertain future. The average thickness of sea ice has decreased by 65 per cent in the last 40 years alone. The change we are seeing will have consequences that will extend far beyond the icy shores of our North, and far beyond this generation,” said John Nightingale, president and CEO, Vancouver Aquarium. “There is an urgent need to raise awareness and inspire action so we may slow the rapid change taking place in an affected region. Our hope is that visitors leave with a better understanding of Canada’s Arctic and the conservation work that is so vital to protect it.”

Gyrfalcon are a top avian predator in the Arctic, yet their food source has been limited by climate change.

Gyrfalcon are a top avian predator in the Arctic, yet their food source has been limited by climate change.

Until late November, Vancouver Aquarium visitors can get up close and personal with a gyrfalcon, an Arctic bird species that has adapted to live in the region’s harsh conditions. The public will have a chance to experience this top avian predator while learning how climate change is limiting its food supply and threatening its existence.

Meanwhile, the Arctic maze in the Ocean Courtyard will take people on a journey to discover some of the region’s most crucial wildlife species and learn how melting ice affects their fragile habitats. By touching the melting ice sculpture at the maze’s centre, visitors will see that change is within reach and each person can in some way shape what becomes of sea ice in the Arctic.

In the Goldcorp 4-D Theatre, senses will take hold as you experience the ever-changing landscape of the North through BBC Earth’s Frozen Planet. Our new Northern Spotlights program is a talk-show style feature that lets you hear directly from Vancouver Aquarium researchers about their pioneering research. Guests include Dr. Valeria Vergara, who has been conducting vocalization research on beluga whales at the Vancouver Aquarium and in the Arctic for more than a decade, and Eric Solomon, director of Arctic programs at Vancouver Aquarium, who has led innovative initiatives to create greater awareness and understanding of important issues that affect both northern and southern Canadians.

To find out more, check the daily schedule at www.vanaqua.org and take action at www.vanaqua.org/ournorth.

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