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experience the aquarium


Step into the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre
and explore the colorful underwater world of Howe Sound.

Satisfy your curiosity and interact with local marine life...

No need for SCUBA gear.

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experience the aquarium


Step into the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre
and explore the colorful underwater world of Howe Sound.

Satisfy your curiosity and interact with local marine life...

No need for SCUBA gear.

MEC_Interior_2.jpg

about Us


The Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education is located inside the Gibsons Public Market, adjacent to the coastal waters of the Howe Sound/Atl’kitsem, a network of fjords northwest of Vancouver, BC.

about Us


The Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education is located inside the Gibsons Public Market, adjacent to the coastal waters of the Howe Sound/Atl’kitsem, a network of fjords northwest of Vancouver, BC.

How we began

On March 17th 2017 the Gibsons Marine Education Centre (Society) was formed to advance education and to protect the environment for the benefit of the public by undertaking projects that sustain the marine ecosystem of Howe Sound, British Columbia and beyond. The first initiative of the society was establishing and operating the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.

The Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre (the NSMEC) secured a facility within the Gibsons Public Market in Gibsons BC which is operated by the not-for-profit organization, the Gibsons Community Building Society (“GCBS”).

Opening Summer 2017, the NSMEC became a community aquarium operating under a collect-hold-release model. This model allows the centre to collect exclusively local marine animals, which, after a short stay at the Centre, will be released back to the local marine environment. This forward-thinking model of aquarium is unique to only three other aquarium societies in Canada, making these community aquariums pioneers in this field. Having only local species as residents inside the aquarium strengthen the connection with our local coastal waters. “Release days” will be memorable events organized with the entire Sunshine Coast community to further that connection even more.

The Society’s volunteer Board of Directors, staff, partners, technical advisory committee, and volunteers have collective experiences in aquarium start-up, public education, non-profit management, animal husbandry, marine research, SCUBA diving, specimen collections, interpretation, fundraising, and conservation. We share a passion for marine education and see the untapped potential of an organization like this and the immeasurable impact it could have on our community, visitors and blue planet. 

Our focus is to ensure that the Centre will positively impact all those who enter, that our educational programs will inspire and encourage positive behavioral change for all ages, and that our projects will support sustainability of our local ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations.

Interested in getting involved? We'd love to hear from you.

 
 
 
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visit us


visit us


Exploration + Learning... for all ages

Our 1,200 square foot aquarium showcases 30 habitats of local marine life collected from nearby harbours and bays. Explore the habitats at your own pace or connect with one of our staff or volunteer interpreters who will be happy to tell you a bit about some of the 70+ species in our centre.

Our team is happy to coach you if you wish to reach into one of the "touch pools" and feel the soft body of a sea star or spines of a prickly sea urchin! Visitors of all ages enjoy learning about the secret lives of species from Howe Sound's coastal waters.

Find the most up to date hours and admission prices on our admission page, here.

Explore our Habitats!

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Help support us


Help support us


Photo by Arlene Littler

Photo by Arlene Littler

Waves of Generosity recognize annual donations

We created a beautiful wall complete with wooden waves and marine species as a tribute to our supporters.

Each donation of $500 will put your name or the name of someone special to you on a rockfish charm. Online donations can be made here or cheques can be dropped off at the public market (tax receipts will be provided at year end). The rockfish charms can be renewed annually and you can get as many as you want, whenever you want.

Other ways to support our work include:

Become a Sponsor - We welcome sponsors to support our educational programs and exhibits and we look forward to celebrating each with customized recognition and benefits.

Contribute to our Endowment - In partnership with the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation we established an endowment for the Centre to be held by the Foundation in perpetuity with annual earnings directed to Centre programs. This is an excellent option for individuals interested in supporting our work into the future, potentially as part of an estate plan.

Invest in an Annual Pass - Purchase a singles or family annual pass for yourself or as a gift. Pass holders can enjoy unlimited visits.

Email info@gibsonsmarine-ed.org to learn more.

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contact us


contact us


 

We'd love to hear from you!

Please send us your message and we will endeavour to respond promptly. You can also reach us at (604) 245-3163. 

The Centre is located in the Gibsons Public Market
473 Gower Point Road (P.O. Box 191),
Gibsons, BC V0N 1V0

If you are interested in volunteering please email volunteer@gibsonsmarine-ed.org.

If you are interested in organizing a school program please click here.

To register for Kids Camps, please email emily@gibsonsmarine-ed.org.

Please complete the form below

Name *
Name
 
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photo gallery


photo gallery


 The First Community Release Day!

Under our unique, community-based collect-hold-release aquarium. We collect animals locally from the surrounding marine waters of the Sunshine Coast and bring them into the Centre for temporary residency. We do this in order to allow visitors and locals alike to be introduced to our incredible local marine life, to learn about them and their unique adaptations, and in turn to foster appreciation and care for them. 

The week of October 15, 2018, the Sonnag Center had its first Community Release. The public was invited to participate in sending the animals back to their natural habitats. Here are a few photos from our very first Release Day presented in partnership with BC Ferries' SeaForward program. 


 April 2019 Community Release Day!

Building on our vision to foster an educated community that actively cares for the oceans we successfully celebrated our 2nd community release day on April 1st, 2019. On this day over a hundred ocean ambassadors were released from their temporary habitats in our community aquarium back to their natural environment. These animals were gently carried back to sea by volunteers, staff and community members of all ages. We love this event as it bridges the connection from the learning world to the living world. The release days helps raise awareness of the incredible biodiversity in the Howe Sound and Salish Sea, the first step in sustaining healthy Coastal life.