Pacific Shores’ iconic aquarium has moved north and officials are hoping to have it up and running next month.
The 22,700 litre saltwater tank, thought to be the largest privately-owned aquarium in B.C., now belongs to Vancouver Island University’s Deep Bay Field Marine Station.
“We hope to have the free-standing aquaria up and running in time for special events we have planned during the annual Brant Wildlife Festival in March,” said Brian Kingzett, VIU Marine Station manager.
Kingzett said the donated equipment will be “reused” and “repurposed,” in line with the station’s green building principles, for the station’s research and educational programs.
Earlier this month, the glass tank was dismantled at the resort in Craig Bay.
Pacific Shores’ general manager Tanya Ogmundson explains it was a tough decision as the tank was a central part of the resort for
12 years, but the mounting upkeep costs were unmanageable.
“The aging equipment that supported the aquaria required extensive upgrading to ensure that the sea life was maintained in good health,” Ogmundson said. “Due to the significant costs involved in the required upgrades … the continued operation of the aquaria was no longer sustainable.”
She said staff will certainly miss the opportunity to view sea life on a daily basis, but the decision was made in the best interests of the marine creatures.
The sea life, which included different kinds of salmon, rock fish and other West Coast marine animals like anemones, urchins and starfish were caught and held under a Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) permit and were therefore released under DFO supervision.
According to Pacific Shores’ Andrea Williamson, the fish, who were released into Craig Bay, “swam in a circle about the size of the tank for a while then swam off.”
But not everybody was released back into the ocean, Wolfie the wolf eel was sent to the Vancouver Aquarium for breeding and is currently in quarantine.
When the tank was first installed, the 3.5 cm-thick acrylic tank had to be lowered into the restaurant in three parts before the roof was finished. Three weeks ago, when the monumental tank was removed, it was cut into many sections of several hundred pounds each.
VIU marine station staff haven’t finalized what kind of sea life will live in the aquarium next.