Welcome to the Youth Leadership Community!

At Ocean Wise, our mission is to inspire the global community to become Ocean Wise by increasing its understanding, wonder and appreciation for our oceans. Our Children & Youth Programs are immersive ocean education experiences that foster love for our oceans through fun and interactive activities, engaging over 9,000 children, youth and families in marine science annually.

Our youth programs and initiatives create space for the next generation of environmental leaders to be supported and inspired.

YouthToSea Council: Our goal is to create a space where youth can connect and support each other as they take action in their own communities to drive ocean conservation efforts. Youth to Sea members will develop projects to be part of a youth-driven effort to inspire and engage the public in ocean conservation efforts. The council will promote positive environmental change through their own conservation efforts and engagement/educational events. Youth to Sea is designed to give a voice to youth in discussions about ocean conservation and sustainability. Our members will shape the development and direction of the council and develop their own ideas as well as be part of a larger group of environmental leaders.

Destination Education Learning Journey: Travel to Vancouver to re-imagine your role in creating a healthier community and world with a collaborative program hosted by Ocean Wise, Science World and Hosteling International.  Dig into the science process and connect to the local environment through indoor and outdoor exhibits and programming to explore the sustainability choices at Science World. Discover BC marine ecosystems and the impact of micro plastics on these ecosystems in the interactive wet lab and galleries at the Vancouver Aquarium. Your group will stay at the Jericho beach hostel, learn to travel with purpose and take part in a service project such as shoreline clean up or restoration work in the Jericho Beach community.

Mountains to Oceans Learning Journey: 30 BC students, aged 16-18, are invited for a three-day, three-night program that runs in October focused on making connections between our mountains and oceans through an exciting outdoor education program and adventure leadership retreat throughout the Squamish River watershed.  Programs focusing on ecosystems, research, wilderness tours, First Nations culture, leadership, and white water rafting will enhance and increase knowledge about these connections from mountain to oceans. 

Ocean Literacy and Leadership Camp: The Ocean Literacy and Leadership Camp is an educational retreat for young women ages 15 – 18 on beautiful Hornby Island in partnership with Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Center, Ocean Wise and Navigate NIDES (Comox Valley Schools - School District 71).  The all-female, six-day, five-night camp focuses on ocean literacy and ecology to enhance and increase knowledge about marine life and stewardship. Participants will gain a strong understanding of the leading environmental issues affecting our oceans today and be inspired to take part in a global effort to protect our waters.

Salish Sea Science Programs: Ocean Wise’s Salish Sea Science Program gives high school students an outdoor education experience like no other. Students will participate in a three-day, two-night program at the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre supported by NSERC Promoscience, where they will learn about ocean literacy, the history of the area and traditional knowledge through outdoor activities. The goal of the Salish Sea Science program is to promote ocean literacy, develop ocean science and leadership capacity amongst participants, and create ocean literacy resources for teachers. Students will develop their appreciation for the environment through outdoor activities including coastal hikes and kayaking.

AquaCamps Work Experience: Apply now to gain valuable work experience, service hours and mentorship in leadership and education with a work placement with our AquaCamps program at the Vancouver Aquarium.  

Duke of Edinburgh's International Award: Ocean Wise is proud to partner with the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award, giving youth the opportunity to complete their award under the mentorship of Ocean Wise staff.  The Duke Edinburgh’s International Award is an internationally recognized program for young people, building their skills to equip them for life and work. By creating opportunities for young people to develop skills, get physically active, give service and experience adventure, the Award can play a critical role in their development.  

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How phat is that pinniped?

Posted by haileyrenaud on November 12th, 2019

How phat is that pinniped?

"I was originally going to call this update “Microwaving seal pups” but that sounded too much like the work of a mad scientist. But I bet you’re intrigued now …

Here’s the real story: One of the most important health measurements of almost any marine mammal is the amount of fat that it has. For most marine mammals this fat is stored in its subcutaneous blubber layer which not only helps keep them warm, but also serves as a critical energy reserve for certain times of the year when food may be scarce or energy expenses high. How much fat animals possess can tell scientists a lot about their overall health, such as whether they are suffering from malnutrition or disease. This is vital information for understanding why some populations of marine mammals are declining in the wild.

The problem that field researchers have long faced is finding a good method for measuring “fatness”. One way is to use various external body measurements to see if they are larger than expected (think: “is their waist large for their height?”) but these tend to be very imprecise. You can also take ultrasound images of the actual blubber layer, but it’s very tricky determining where it’s best to measure this. More recently, scientists have used injections of a labelled water, deuterium oxide, to more precisely determine how much fat the animals possess. Unfortunately, this requires holding the animal for several hours and taking a series of blood samples, which is logistically challenging in wild animals. It can also get very expensive when dealing with large marine mammals. What is needed is a rapid, inexpensive method that can be used in field work.

Enter salmon and the bathroom scale to the rescue. Muscle contains more water than fat, and water is very good at conducting electrical signals. The more fat you have, the more difficulty (“resistance”) a signal will have travelling through your body. That’s how your fancy bathroom scale works – when you stand on the pads, it actually measures the resistance of your body to a small electrical current, and converts the result into percent fat. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get most marine mammals to stand on a scale. Fortunately, salmon researchers have been using a similar technology for years. The suitably (but uncreatively) named “FatMeter” is a compact device that sends a harmless, very low-level microwave signal through a fish and can instantly tell you how much fat it has.

Of course, both the FatMeter and your bathroom scale work because the developers know how to translate the electrical signal into percent body fat for specific animals. That means you can’t just use it right away for a seal or whale. So, we are currently evaluating and modifying this technology with both Steller sea lions at the Vancouver Aquarium and seal pups at Marine Mammal Rescue. The sea lions are placed on different diets where they will gain and lose fat. The harbour seal pups are measured as they naturally get fatter before getting released. We take FatMeter measurements at a number of sites along their body, because we don’t yet know what the best site will be or whether we need to measure at more than one (see attached photos). We also take a suite of external body measurements as well as ultrasound blubber images. Finally, we use the traditional deuterium oxide method to estimate the seal’s “true” fat mass. All this data will be put into a mathematical model that will tell us which combination of measurements most accurately and easily predicts the seal or sea lion’s true body condition. The initial results look very promising – we might only need a few FatMeter measurements and 1 or 2 external body measurements to get a good estimate of the “fatness” of an individual seal or sea lion.

This project is one part of our continuing research conservation program. Our goal is to use animals under the Aquarium’s care to directly aid the study and conservation of species in the wild."

Dave Rosen

Collections Research Coordinator

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