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Bonne Bay Aquarium and Research Station celebrates 20th anniversary

By Melanie Callahan

Wide-eyed children holding sea stars. Building knowledge in marine research. Hosting the community to share a song or story.

A young person is slightly out of focus to the right while she looks at a large fish in an aquarium
Research at the aquarium varies from biology to oceanography, geology to the arts, and it welcomes students and academics from all over the world every year.
Photo: Tom Cochrane

The Bonne Bay Aquarium and Research Station (formerly the Bonne Bay Marine Station), is celebrating all this and so much more during its 20th anniversary.

Situated in UNESCO World Heritage Site

The station is located in Norris Point in Gros Morne National Park on the province’s West Coast.

It is best known to many for the public aquarium and touch tanks that are open during the summer months, but the facility is active with research, public outreach and educational initiatives all year long.

Research varies from biology to oceanography, geology to the arts, and it welcomes students and academics from all over the world every year.

A number of buildings along the water's edge, the largest of which is green with numerous windows. A hill rises behind and the sky is moody, grey and white.
The Bonne Bay Aquarium and Research Station is located in Norris Point, in the Gros Morne UNESCO World Heritage Site on Newfoundland’s West Coast.
Photo: David Howells

It is significant for its proximity to the ecologically diverse biotas of Bonne Bay, and is situated in a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its geology and terrestrial ecology.

The station opened in 2002 and became part of Grenfell Campus in January 2021.

“The Bonne Bay Aquarium and Research Station is an integral part of this campus, and university as a whole,” said Dr. Ian Sutherland, vice-president, Grenfell Campus. “The opportunities it provides for meaningful engagement and research are tremendous. We are delighted to be part of its anniversary celebration and I’m excited for what the future holds.”

Anniversary celebrations

  • Friday, Aug. 19: Music and refreshments at the Cat Stop
  • Saturday, Aug. 20: 20th anniversary breakfast and public lecture

Everyone is invited to hear from the Johnson Insurance keynote speaker, Dr. Phil Manning, chair of natural history and director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Ancient Life at the University of Manchester (U.K.).

Dr. Manning has researched, designed and helped build exhibitions on the evolution of life on Earth, which are often-focussed on dinosaurs, including Walking with Dinosaurs that was opened by Queen Elizabeth in 2000. He has written, presented and been co-producer on multiple television documentaries for National Geographic, the BBC, the History Channel and other networks around the globe.

Breakfast will be served and a children’s craft hour will take place during the keynote speaker.

Alumni are also invited to share their stories about the time they spent at the station.

“We invite everyone to come to our anniversary celebrations,” said Duncan McIlroy, director, Bonne Bay Aquarium and Research Station. “With the support of our partners, funders and the university, the station has grown steadily over the past 20 years. We have our sights set on further diversification of research, teaching and learning activities at the station in the future, while continuing to inspire the public with the wonders of Bonne Bay in our aquarium.”

The Bonne Bay Aquarium and Research Station anniversary celebrations are part of Memorial’s #TheBigSplash. Learn more here.

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