It’s a deliberate decision, made in the name of love, that can cause someone to commit an image to their body for life. Well, there are many reasons why one might choose to get a tattoo, but it’s certainly a commitment. Many people choose to express themselves with permanent ink; an online survey in 2012 revealed that one in five Americans had at least one tattoo, an increase over previous surveys done in 2003 and 2008. Are you one of the inked?

Here at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, based on a similar poll, about 30 per cent of staff and volunteers have tattoos, and we wanted to share with you the ways we literally wear our hearts on our sleeves. We have tattoos of the animals we love, have studied, raised, rescued or admire. And this kind of specialized ink is not uncommon. In fact, eminent scientist Carl Zimmer posed a simple question on his blog in 2007, “Are scientists hiding tattoos of their science?” The response was impressive. This simple question resulted in hundreds of photos, twitter posts, and even resulted in a book, named, appropriately, Science Ink released in 2011. It features over 200 images of scientists and science lovers, and includes everything from coelacanths to Newton’s laws.

For example, I myself am a pretty big fan of squid, octopus, cuttlefish and chambered nautilus. As a group, these animals are known as cephalopods. What first caught my attention was observing them changing their colour and texture at will. They have cells, called chromatophores, just below the surface of their skin. Each cell contains different coloured pigments that expand and contract to make colours more visible, and really, it seemed only natural that one day I’d introduce colour pigments to my skin too (though I still can’t change the colour at my will. Darn).

Vancouver Aquarium Science Ink

After my love of cephalopods allowed me the incredible opportunity to be a part of a research project in Moorea, I asked a Moorean artist Tautu Ellis to create a Polynesian octopus for me.

Jen C., cash clerk at the Vancouver Aquarium shares her #animalink story:

“My first animal tattoo came shortly after volunteering at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre with Daisy the rescued harbour porpoise. It was an incredible experience, and little did I know I would go on to help with the rehabilitation of other harbour porpoises, and even a false killer whale!”

Vancouver Aquarium Science Ink

So keep an eye out for the #scienceink at #vanaqua! If you have any great science/animal ink yourself, be sure to tweet or instagram it using the #scienceink and #vanaqua hashtags and maybe we can feature you too!

Blog post by Keely Langford, an interpretive delivery specialist at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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One Response

  1. Jen C

    I forgot to include a few shoutouts to the artists who absolutely deserve some credit.
    Stephanie Babiarz did the daisy and porpoise flukes, and the orcas were done by Jordan Frank who’s currently working at The Fall.


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