The Harrington Family of Edmonton won free entry to Discovery Passage Aquarium in celebration of the 10

Discovery Passage Aquarium celebrates its 10,000th visitor

The strong admission numbers will help towards financial stability for the young non-profit society

When the project was proposed to City Council last year, the Discovery Passage SeaLife Society (DPSS) projected 10,000 visitors per season.

President of the DPSS Mark Wunsch happily announced reaching that goal just two months since opening on Ocean’s Day, June 8.

“We are so pleased the Aquarium has created quite a buzz and attracted so many visitors to our downtown.  In just two months, we have had as many visitors as we expected to come in a full four-month season,” Wunsch says. “The responses that we have received have been ultimately positive and encourage us to keep building community around the aquarium. And for the remaining season we still have a few surprises to come. ”

The strong admission numbers will help towards financial stability for the young non-profit society.

“As any public venue, we need to have funds on hand for running costs, maintenance and hiring core staff for the next season,” says Society Treasurer Iris Wunsch. “Income from admissions and our sponsorship programs will allow us to keep a balanced budget. If this support continues we will be able to keep subsidizing school visits and expand our programming.”

The recently-acquired charitable status of the aquarium should make it especially interesting for supporters as they are able to receive tax receipts for their donations. The society recognized its sponsors at a Sponsor Appreciation night in July.

“For me, the most amazing learning experience of this project was that this community has so many generous people willing to share their skills and assets to create a special place,” says Society director Sandra Milligan. “Businesses and residents provided all kinds of help to set-up the building including professional services, equipment, supplies, cash donations, and hundreds of volunteer hours.   That community commitment continued after Opening Day with volunteers of all ages working with visitors at the Aquarium.”

“The visitors have been as varied as the critters at the Aquarium,” says Aquarium Manager Deb Cowper. “Out of town visitors, like the Harrington family, come from across Canada and the U.S. European visitors appear almost daily, and then we have our local families who have purchased season’s passes and visit sometimes multiple times per week.”

The end of September will mark the end of the season and all the critters will be released back into the ocean. So make sure that you visit the Aquarium if you haven’t done it yet.

Aquarium employee Kate Dixon describes some of the highlights of working in the Aquarium: “I just love the excitement of our visitors: the kids – and adults – are always enthralled with what they see and touch. For me, it is great to be learning so much and sharing that knowledge with everyone.”

Volunteer Pat Carpenter says, “I still cannot believe that all this lives right here, just under the surface, locally.

“Visitors come in and say that too, all the time. The aquarium is a real asset to this community and I love volunteering and learning here.”

Highlights for the visitors over the season include the new displays, but exciting things happen in our tanks on a daily basis. New animals like tiny fish, sea slugs, urchins, and sea stars come in with the ocean water.  Special moments have included a moon snail secreting its distinctive egg collar as we watched; crabs wrestling pipefish; sea urchins ensnaring herring; and hermit crabs fighting over new homes. There is always something happening, and our staff and volunteers are delighted to share.

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