Volunteers contribute more than 105,000 hours a year to marine conservation, education and research efforts at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. We are so grateful for all the dedicated people who donate their time in support of aquatic life. In honour of National Volunteer Week (April 10-16) we’re profiling a few volunteers who are out in the community, expanding our Aquarium community every day.

Volunteer: Bob Ostle, 68, retired

Bob is another of our volunteers who have lent their efforts to multiple departments. Since joining the Aquarium as a volunteer five years ago, Bob has worked with our interpretive and external relations teams, as well as animal husbandry. But lately, he’s been hanging out at our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, helping to care for sick and injured animals.

After volunteering for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games and sitting on the board of the BCIT Alumni Association, Bob was approached by an Aquarium volunteer to consider donating his time after the Olympics concluded. As a member of the Aquarium for more than 30 years, he figured it was a great chance to give back.

Seal release by Vancouver Aquarium

Hundreds of rescued seals are rehabilitated and released by our Marine Mamma Rescue Centre team each year.

Being part of the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre team has been a profound experience for Bob, who has a background in industrial chemistry. Not only has the experience exposed him to other branches of science, marine biology and marine ecology, he also sees it as a chance to right some of the wrongs of the past. “Face it, I was part of the generation that helped to make rock fish almost endangered on reefs around the south coast,” he says. “Who knew then that those rock cod we made into fish and chips were immature juveniles who had yet to reproduce?”

As a volunteer, Bob now knows much more about human actions affect underwater ecosystems. “Marine life is not what it appears to be on the surface,” he says. “No pun intended.”

Volunteering at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre isn’t always easy. There can be long hours when times are busy during the summer and equipment wears out as the season progresses. “Sometimes it takes some ingenuity to get things fixed and operational,” he says. “But it’s fun and challenging to make things more comfortable for the patients.”

Levi porpoise rescue, Vancouver Aquarium

Levi the harbour porpoise got a new lease on life when he was rescued and released in 2013.

And there’s nothing like the satisfaction of seeing a once-injured animal become healthy enough for release. Bob’s most memorable moment on the team was helping to care for Levi, the rescued harbour porpoise who was rehabilitated and released in 2013. “I had the first shift when he arrived at MMR and the last shift before he was released and lots of shifts in between,” he recalls. “Seeing that what you do really does help the animals survive and make it to release is the most enjoyable part.”

To find out how you can join the Vancouver Aquarium volunteer community, click here.

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, presented by Port Metro Vancouver and supported by Teekay Shipping, is a hospital for sick and injured animals. Rescue Centre staff attend to more than 100 marine creatures each year and rehabilitate them for release back into their natural habitat. Donate to the Rescue Centre at www.vanaqua.org/mmr

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