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Gibsons aquarium launches its first Sunshine Coast Ocean Festival

The Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre and Sunshine Coast Conservation Association will host a number of events leading up to World Ocean Day, June 8.
Release Day NSMEC
The Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre's Release Day in March 2022 invited hands-on help from the community.

The first Sunshine Coast Ocean Festival is getting ready to connect community with nature. 

Between June 2 and 8, the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre will host three events with funding from the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition. It kicks off with an outdoor film screening of My Octopus Teacher in Gibsons’ Winegarden Park overlooking the harbour. Attendees are recommended to bring picnic blankets and snacks. The film will begin at sunset (around 8 p.m.)

“We wanted to do something bigger for Oceans Day this year, since the past few years have been somewhat impacted by COVID,” Jenny Wright, the curator of the aquarium, said, and they took inspiration from events their team has attended in other communities. 

On June 3 and 4, technology will aid with exploration of the underwater world. At the community aquarium in the Gibsons Public Market, a virtual reality experience will be available that weekend. “This is your chance to swim with the fishes without touching a drop of water!” a press release declares. The virtual experience will explore an underwater dive of different locations, “so they can swim through some coral reefs, the can swim through some kelp forests,” Wright said. Registration information will be available online.  

Also on June 4, a beach seine will attempt to catch a few creatures for first-hand introduction to local marine wildlife. This family-friendly event runs from 10 a.m. to noon at Armours Beach.

On World Oceans Day, June 8, the aquarium will host some ocean-themed activities, and it will be free to enter. 

More festival fun

The Sunshine Coast Conservation Association is also hosting its own festival from June 4 through 10 with Rhizome UP! Media and the Green Film Series. The free activities will have virtual and in-person options, and registration is encouraged.  

First up will be live film screenings on June 4 and 8, and daily “Nemo Talks” online from noon to 1 p.m. between June 5 and 9. The talks will feature cetaceans of the Salish Sea, eelgrass protection efforts, and more. Online feature films and short films will also be available. Want to get involved? Citizen science activities will be ongoing from a herring curtain demonstration to in-person introductions to forage fish. Find a fill list of events at

Ocean Week Canada estimates more than 500,000 people across the country will participate in activities that promote ocean education, connection and conservation between June 2 and 11, with World Ocean Day on June 8. There are more than 56 Ocean Week events planned in B.C. alone.