Discover Pacific sea life in the Canadian Museum of Nature
ONC and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council partner in new permanent exhibition
March 13, 2023

A new permanent exhibition showcasing sea creatures that thrive in west coast tide-pool environments and their connection to coastal Indigenous peoples can now be visited at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

The Pacific Discovery Tank exhibit is the result of a partnership between Ocean Networks Canada, the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. There visitors will encounter live sea stars, sea cucumbers, tentacled anemones and spiky urchins, and learn of their importance to coastal Indigenous communities in British Columbia.

The sea creatures have traveled all the way from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve which lies within the traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. Nuu-chah-nulth people not only use coastal resources for sustenance, but also protect and take care of them. In each community, a person inherits the role of being the beach keeper.

It is their responsibility to ensure the health of the seashore for present and future generations, explains Pieter Romer, ONC Indigenous Community Liaison.

“By integrating Indigenous place-based knowledge within this live tank exhibit, visitors can learn about the importance of sustaining these species in their own local coastal environment as well as better understand Indigenous Peoples’ cultural connection to the ocean.”

Museum science interpreters are available to show and talk about the animals in the tank, giving visitors the opportunity to see the tide-pool creatures up close. Visit the museum website for a full schedule.

The exhibition incorporates work from Nuu-chah-nulth Ocean Knowledge Cards, a cross-cultural learning tool that combines western ocean science and Indigenous Knowledge to better understand sea life along the Vancouver Island coast. Each card identifies a particular species with photography, ocean science highlights, and importance within Indigenous territories.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Ocean Knowledge Cards identifies 36 marine species found along the Vancouver Island coast.

Nuu-chah-nulth Ocean Knowledge Cards were produced in collaboration with the nuučaan̓uɫ community knowledge holders, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, and Ocean Networks Canada. The cards are available for purchase from ONC and Uu-a-thluk, an aquatic resource management organization administered through the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

New W̱SÁNEĆ Ocean Knowledge Cards are in development and will be available soon.

The Pacific Discovery Tank is supported by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Environment and Climate Change Canada, Oceans Network Canada and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

Feature image credit: Callum Ramsay © Canadian Museum of Nature

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