This artists’ rendition shows one possible look of a proposed mural for the curved wall of the building at 871 Island Highway in downtown Campbell River.

Underwater mural in the works

The Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences is raising money to put an underwater mural on the side of its downtown building

Staff of the Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences are accustomed to bringing the marine environment into their facility in downtown Campbell River.

With a bit of funding help from the community, they may soon display that environment outside the building, as well.

CAHS is spearheading efforts to place a two-and-a-half-storey mural on the curved wall of the commercial building at 871 Island Hwy. The mural would feature an underwater theme highlighting species found in local waters.

“We walk by that wall every day,” said Tina Podlasly, CAHS office manager. “I think it’s a perfect spot for a mural downtown. Our specialty is fish, so I think it would be great if we could feature some of the sea life from this area.”

The idea for the mural emerged last summer, when CAHS first applied for funding through the City’s Downtown Facade Improvement Program. That request was turned down, but Podlasly said CAHS is considering applying again this year, and in the meantime has begun to raise funds on its own while gaining approvals for the project.

“(Building owner) Derik Pallan, he’s on board,” said Podlasly. “We have some funders and we’ve also approached more donors, and we have an artist who’s interested.”

J. Alex Witcombe and Nick Hutton-Jay of Flywheel Studios agreed to draft a concept, and Witcombe created a digital image overlaid on the wall. It includes the large letters that spell out S U S H I in the five upper-floor windows, but Podlasly said Miki’s Sesame Sushi, another of the building’s tenants, has agreed to remove the letters so as not to distract from the mural.

“We’ve actually talked to them about that, and they loved the mural idea,” Podlasly said. “We haven’t met too many people who haven’t liked it.”

Discovery Passage Aquarium shared CAHS’s call for donations on its Facebook page to increase public awareness of the sea life in Discovery Passage.

Witcombe’s preliminary artist’s rendition will likely be altered before the final version is painted on the wall.

“I’m just the office manager, but when you show it to the biologists, they point out, ‘this fish doesn’t live here; we should have these other fish,’” Podlasly said. “We have a lot of input.”

Podlasly said CAHS envisions the mural being just the first in a three-phase enhancement that would include additional art on the building’s long, south-facing wall.

“It would be cool if we could get some school kids to work on the bottom section of that wall and put on something that would complement that curved wall.”

The not-for-profit CAHS, the only aquatic research facility of its kind in B.C., performs field and laboratory research in fish health and welfare, wild/farmed salmon interactions, epidemiology, stress physiology and environmental monitoring.

To contribute to funding for the mural, contact CAHS at 250-286-6102 or email