Vancouver Aquarium launched a public awareness effort today to save its Marine Mammal Rescue Program, and called upon members of the public to make their support known to the Vancouver Park Board.

The Marine Mammal Rescue Program helps more than 100 sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals that are found stranded annually along the B.C. coastline. Most are treated, rehabilitated and successfully released back into the wild by the rescue program, the only hospital and care facility of its kind in Canada.

But for some – including a false killer whale and a harbour porpoise currently receiving ongoing care through the rescue program – the extent of their injuries or lack of basic survival skills means they cannot survive in their natural habitat, and they need a place to call home.

However, the rescue program is threatened by a proposed Park Board bylaw that would ban all cetaceans from the Vancouver Aquarium, including rescued animals that Fisheries and Oceans Canada deem unfit for release.

“The proposed bylaw has generated concern among our staff, members, and the public about the fate of the Marine Mammal Rescue Program and cetaceans currently in our care,” said Randy Pratt, incoming Chair of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Board of Directors. “We share those concerns, and we are asking the public to make their voices heard on this issue.”

Members of the public can use the Vancouver Aquarium’s online platform to send a short letter to the Park Board expressing their support for the Marine Mammal Rescue Program, and attend the Vancouver Park Board meeting on May 15, 2017. At that meeting, the Vancouver Park Board is expected to vote on the proposed bylaw.

Currently, the Marine Mammal Rescue Program is the only one of its kind in Canada, with the accreditation, resources and expertise to provide ongoing care for non-releasable marine mammals. The rescue program is governed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which ultimately decides whether an animal can be released back into the wild after its rehabilitation.

“Our top priority is the health and welfare of animals in our care,” said Dr. Martin Haulena, Head Veterinarian, Vancouver Aquarium. “Not only would the proposed ban jeopardize Canada’s only Marine Mammal Rescue Program, it would eliminate our ability to save the most vulnerable animals – those that cannot care for themselves.”

Vancouver Aquarium CEO John Nightingale added: “The proposed bylaw undermines the health and welfare of sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals including whales, dolphins, and porpoises. We are committed to the marine mammals who need our care, to education, and to ocean conservation. Please join us in making your voice heard. We appreciate your support.”


11 Responses

  1. Christine

    I can’t believe that anyone would be in support of this bylaw. The aquarium isn’t there to exploit animals. The amount of threatened animals they save, mostly from human causes, is amazing and the value of learning more about them and teaching the public is invaluable. I’m quite sure they like so many opposed to the aquarium in general are biased by their ignorance. The efforts that go into the rescues , medical care and maintenance of every single animal there is highly underestimated and valued. This isn’t just a park, it’s an invaluable resource and should serve as an example for other places in the world!

  2. Sylvia Poelsta

    Please let the aquarium continue the care of rescuing, I admire your dedication ,and I am sad that the Vancouver Park Board is even considering to stop these programs that help animals.

  3. Jenny

    The Vancouver aquarium takes amazing care of its animals. Without them many animals, that are un-releasable would have no where to go. Please allow this wonderful facility to continue caring for these animals. Vancouver aquarium also undertakes a tremendous amount of research into animals in the wild. Whales and not doing well in the wild and need all the help we can give them. Research is an important part of this to help make informed decisions about how we can save these amazing animals. Please don’t be short sighted to the needs of local cetaceans that need our help. Please continue letting Vancouver aquarium do the fantastic job it does.

  4. Marjorie Crawshaw

    The marine mammal rescue program is a program to be proud of world wide. This program has been running since I can remember. Only ignorance and arrogance would stop this program from continuing. The virtue of a community is shown in it’s compassion for it’s support of all life not just the interest of humans. I do not want to see captured cetaceans held for show but rescue and release or providing a home to the injured is the only sane and humane thing to do. The Vancouver parks board seem to think the aquarium is only for the residents of Vancouver but I beg to differ. The aquarium belongs to all of us in every part of our province as does the park. I do not think the parks board has a mandate to speak for all of the people of B.C. I believe they need to re-think the cancellation of this precious rescue program before they make complete fools of themselves.

  5. Sue Cockcroft

    The Marine Mammal Rescue Program is a vital part of our community . So much research is done at the aquarium by people that do so much for our ocean life. We must do our part to preserve wildlife in our world and this is one way to do that. These animals are cared for and have a full life. Please allow them to continue their precious work.

  6. Debra Ann Cathcart

    I love the Vancouver Aquarium. We had a family membership in the 60’s and 70’s. I would have gone there every day if I was allowed. My sister’s and I learned so much about respecting nature and the environment. To this day we recycle like fiends, and respect animals and nature. It saddens me to think that people are so obsessed about not keeping cetaceans in captivity, that they are not paying attention to all of the good that the Vancouver Aquarium does. People, please educate yourselves before you complain (and that applies to everything)!

  7. Steve Dunn

    You can’t convice stupid people to do anything. The Parks Board has consistently proven its incompetence when it comes to the Aquariums affairs. Time for legal action to remove the Aquarium from Parks Board governance.

  8. Patricia Taylor

    The Marine Mammal Rescue Program should definitely be retained.
    It is a necessity for the continuation of the health of marine life.

    Pat Taylor


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