It’s National Volunteer Week! In honour of the 105,000 hours our community donates each year to the conservation, research and education efforts at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, we’re profiling some of our fabulous volunteers. This year, National Volunteer Week highlights the impact of volunteers within our communities, so we’re focusing on the people that represent the Aquarium in some interesting off-site endeavours.
Volunteer: Sonny Joyce, 58, recently retired
Since joining the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre as a volunteer in 2015, Sonny has been all over the place, interacting with guests in our galleries and at the information desk, educating students in the Wet Lab, and doing outreach as with our B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network as part of its Dock Talks series.
A life-long lover of marine mammals, Sonny joined the Aquarium’s volunteer network in order to learn more about their environment and conserving aquatic ecosystems. As part of the Dock Talks team, he plays a crucial role in educating the public about cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and letting boaters how to keep a safe distance from these creatures to avoid disturbing their feeding behaviour. Sonny also raises awareness of the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network and encourages the public to report sightings. “I found the Vancouver Aquarium a great fit for me to volunteer with and to learn about marine life and conservation,” he says.
While Sonny loves the variety involved in visiting different marinas as a part of Dock Talks, the post isn’t without its challenges. The weather can be unpredictable out near the water, and people can be skeptical at first when he approaches them. “They may assume that you are trying to sell them whale watching tours of some sort. However, once you engage them and they realize what we represent the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network with the Vancouver Aquarium they become enthusiastically interested.”
In addition to becoming skilled in approaching and educating strangers, Sonny says he’s also met many new friends through his volunteer efforts. And he’s been able to expand his knowledge of marine mammals as he helps to mitigate the threats they face from ocean pollution, food supply shortages, climate change and habitat loss.