Spirits were (raised) high at Night at the Aquarium, an annual signature fundraising gala that supports Ocean Wise® and Vancouver Aquarium, presented by PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. The award-winning event, which took place on Thursday, June 15, brought together more than 350 foodies, wine-lovers, and ocean ambassadors in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary and its incredible and diverse coasts. The event raised more than $370,000 in support of the Aquarium’s conservation, research, and education programs.

Our wonderful guests enjoying the Taittinger champagne reception at Night at the Aquarium.  Photo: Vision Event Photography

For the past six decades, Vancouver Aquarium, and now its new global conservation organization Ocean Wise, has been a pioneer in ocean conservation in Canada. Its Marine Mammal Rescue Centre hospital rescues, rehabilitates, and releases approximately 150 animals each year and is the only facility of its kind in the country. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup has engaged more than 700,000 Canadians since 1994, and collected more than 1.2 million kg of trash from Canada’s shorelines. In 2005, the Aquarium launched the Ocean Wise seafood program. Now with thousands of partner locations across the country, the Ocean Wise seafood symbol makes it easy for Canadians to make ocean-friendly choices.

“It’s an honour to receive such an overwhelming show of support for our mission.” – Dr. John Nightingale  Photo: Vision Event Photography

“This year’s Night at the Aquarium gala was a wonderful celebration of our country and our intrinsic connection to the ocean. Bringing together our longstanding friends, supporters, and partners was a fitting tribute and one not soon to be forgotten,” said Dr. John Nightingale, president and CEO, Ocean Wise. “It’s a pleasure to celebrate with those who share our passion for the ocean here at home and beyond and an honour to receive such an overwhelming show of support for our mission.”

Gala festivities began with a Taittinger champagne reception, featuring libations and canapés crafted by local sustainable seafood champions. Tiller’s Folly folk band kept toes tapping while guests bid on impressive silent auction items and bought raffle tickets for business class tickets for two to anywhere in the world that Air Canada flies.

The night kicked off with an exquisite Taittinger champagne reception.  Photo: Vision Event Photography

The epicurean delight continued with an exquisite four-course seated dinner with tables set throughout the Aquarium’s galleries and dishes from some of B.C.’s premier chefs: Ocean Wise® Executive Chef Ned Bell, Araxi Restaurant’s James Walt, Blue Water Cafe’s Frank Pabst, and The Fish Counter’s Rob Clark. Delectable wines from Kim Crawford, Blue Mountain Vineyards, and Meiomi complemented the menu.

Chef Jefferson Alvarez (right) from Cacao Vancouver.  Photo: Vision Event Photography

After dinner, guests enjoyed an energetic live auction lead by local man-about-town Fred Lee. For the first time in event history, the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre was the beneficiary of both auctions. Following an introduction by head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena and a heartwarming video of recent marine mammal rescues, guests indulged in feisty but friendly competition over once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Prizes included a 13-day Northwest Passage and Greenland adventure from One Ocean Expeditions and a romantic four-night stay in an overwater bungalow at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre received $117,000 in support of their efforts.

An acrobatic show by Underground Circus – an amazing demonstration of strength and grace – as well as a selection of digestifs and desserts ended the evening on a sweet note.

Night at the Aquarium would not be possible without presenting sponsor PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc., gold-level sponsors Leith Wheeler Investment Group and LNG Canada as well as silver-level sponsors BDO, Beedie Development Group, Earnscliffe, Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership, Nancy Burke & Ian Telfer, Odlum Brown, Pedersens, and Waste Control Services.

Fred Lee was on fire at the live-auction, as per usual.

Warm thanks go to raffle showcase sponsor Air Canada. Special recognition is also shared with the amazing Ocean Wise seafood partners who donate their time in support of our conservation efforts. Through their time and generous support, the event partners, volunteers, guests, and supporters make this night an unforgettable success.

NATA guests were captivated by the Underground Circus performers. Photo: Vision Event Photography

Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise initiative, is one of the world’s leading accredited aquariums, dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life. www.vanaqua.org

 Ocean Wise is a not-for-profit organization whose vision is a world in which oceans are healthy and flourishing. www.ocean.org

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