Where does an injured harbour seal go for a little TLC? To the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, an Ocean Wise initiative on Vancouver’s shore. Thanks to your support, Bullfrog Power funded 50% of a 4.8 kW solar project on the Rescue Centre’s roof. Together, we were also major contributors to the upcoming 53.6 kW rooftop solar installation on the iconic Vancouver Aquarium—another Ocean Wise initiative. We spoke to Sophie Merritt, the Sustainability Manager at Ocean Wise, about taking care of the ocean and its inhabitants.
Bullfrog: In addition to caring for more than 50,000 animals at the Vancouver Aquarium, Ocean Wise is committed to caring for the environment at large. What sustainability initiatives are you pioneering this year?
Sophie: We set yearly goals—usually around waste diversion or energy efficiency. This year, we’ve achieved an 80% diversion rate! We have a very robust recycling and composting program that includes our back-of-house operations and our guest services. To name just one highlight, all of our food packaging is compostable.
On the energy efficiency side, we did an audit this year and found lots of opportunities for improvement, like retrofitting our boilers. We’re also significantly reducing our environmental footprint thanks to the solar panels that the Bullfrog community helped fund. The Rescue Centre’s panels supply 17.5% of its electricity. Not only is that sustainable, it cuts down on energy costs and allows us to spend more on the Centre’s rehabilitation efforts.
Bullfrog: The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre saves more than 150 mammals and releases them back into the wild every year. Can you tell us about your favourite success story from 2019?
Sophie: A northern fur seal named Mo touched all of our hearts this year. When she was rescued near Hardwicke Island as a seven-month-old pup, she was severely underweight and unable to dive. She spent five months rehabilitating with us, and she became so spirited and energetic. When we released her in July, Mo couldn’t wait to get back in the ocean—she didn’t even give us a backwards glance!
Bullfrog: What can someone from the Bullfrog community do to help keep the ocean and its residents healthy for generations to come?
Sophie: I would encourage you to practise the new 4Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle. Refusing plastics in the first place keeps them out of the ocean and sends a powerful message to corporations. You can also help by joining a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup through Ocean Wise and WWF.
The oceans are warming, and that’s a critical issue for aquatic ecosystems and beyond. Your greenhouse gas emissions directly relate to the success or failure of combating climate change. Choosing green energy is a great way to shrink your carbon footprint, and it’s proof that an individual can make a real impact.
Seals aren’t the only solar power-loving sea creatures! Find out how an orca research lab ditched diesel fuel in our OrcaLab video.