From left Martin Buchanan and Rupert Gale of the CR Salmon Foundation

Aquarium takes shape next door to the Campbell River pier

The crew is making good progress in putting the structure together

The Discovery Passage Aquarium is becoming a reality and the progress can be followed down at the Campbell River Fishing Pier.

Last week the foundation was put in place with the help of Campbell River’s Aztec Freight and Heidema Engineering and this week the carpenters are dominating the scene. The crew, donated by Seymour Pacific, is making good progress in putting the structure together.

“We are overwhelmed with the generosity of the community.  Donations of all types of supplies and professional work, as well as cash, are helping get the Aquarium off the ground,” said Mark Wunsch, President of Discovery SeaLife Society.

The Society has just gained charitable status and can issue tax receipts for donations. Founding Sponsors to date include Daybreak and Noon Hour Campbell River Rotary Clubs, Seymour Pacific, BC Hydro, the City of Campbell River, the Campbell River Salmon Foundation as well as the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

A particularly popular donation choice is the annual tank sponsorship, which will be recognized by a sign with the sponsor’s name on the tank; the CR Salmon Foundation is supporting a tank to feature the estuary habitat of the salmon life cycle.

“The Campbell River Salmon Foundation is excited by the opportunity to educate people about this important part of the salmon’s life cycle,” said Rupert Gale of the CRSF.

“About a dozen tanks are still available for this season and the funds will help us to develop and offer learning programs and displays about our plentiful marine life,” says Iris Wunsch, society treasurer.

While the society directors have been “working” volunteers for over a year since the aquarium building was purchased, the society has started fulfilling its promise to create jobs.

Deb Cowper, the newly hired Aquarium Manager, says the sea life should be ready in their tanks for Ocean’s Day, June 8. She is leading the team of at least two full time seasonal interpreters.

“We are all very much looking forward to showing off the amazing critters of Discovery Passage and will do that 7 days a week during the season,” said Cowper.  “We want to create an informal, discovery type of atmosphere that isn’t always possible at large aquariums. Kids of all ages will be able to get up close and personal with all shapes and textures of marine life.”

The Pacific Salmon Foundation has provided funding of $13,000 for a center-piece of the Aquarium, a large cylindrical tank that will feature Campbell River’s salmon at the smolt stage that will be provided in cooperation with the Quinsam Hatchery.

The Aquarium is hosting two information sessions for anyone interested in volunteering, or just wanting to know more.  Come down to the Pier Entrance Thursday, May 23 from 4-6 p.m. and Sunday May 26 from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (during the Pier Street Market) to register as a volunteer and meet some of the staff and Board. Volunteers can also contact volunteers@discoverypassageaquarium.ca or Volunteer Campbell River.

Aquarium hours in June will be 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Admission costs are $6 for adults, $4 for children over 5, $18 per family; season passes are available on site.

For more information or to make a donation online, see www.discoverypassageaquarium.ca.