Hakai Magazine

Coastal science and societies

Catch, Borrow, Release

A visionary small community on Canada’s west coast offers aquarium fans a new way to enjoy marine wildlife.

Authored by

by Gord More

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Perched on the shore of a small coastal town on Vancouver Island, British Columbia is a fish-shaped building full of wonders, luring residents and tourists, children and their parents, and anyone drawn to an innovative philosophy about animals in captivity. The community-supported Ucluelet Aquarium is one of the world’s first catch-and-release facilities. Each spring, divers descend into local waters to collect animals by hand. They gather Pacific octopuses, shiner perch, tiger rockfish, sea stars, and other species for display throughout the summer and fall. At the end of November, the animals return to their wild homes. Watch as animals are collected, marvelled at by all, and then released back to the wild.