The Ocean Sciences Centre does many different types of research on deep-sea species and aquaculture development.
There’s more than seals at Memorial University’s Ocean Sciences Centre in Logy Bay.
The centre focuses on scientific advancement and research of aquaculture and deep-sea species. But most people only know it for the seal tanks.
Danielle Nichols is the research marketing manager and program coordinator for the centre. She says they are always trying to showcase what they do and what they are about, but it takes money to do so.
Nichols works daily trying to educate the public about the research the centre does.
“In 2013, I begged, borrowed and stole until somebody allowed me to create a high school program,” said Nichols. “I have now reached over probably about 4,000 high school students.”
Nichols says they run an outdoor education program from June to September, attracting an average of 22,000 people each year. There are touch tanks, fish display tanks and the much adored seals.
“The critters that we study are very hearty animals. So we were really lucky we didn’t see a lot of trauma to our animals in our lab. But it did push back our research by the full week.”
In addition to this, the centre has a travelling touch tank it can bring to schools and events. It reaches an average of 10,000 people annually.
Community engagement is important to Nichols.
When she sees high school students developing an interest in marine biology after attending one of the programs she set up, it means a lot since it’s an experience she can relate to. When she was in Grade 5, she visited the centre and realized she wanted to pursue a career in marine biology.
Despite this, not all of the research at the centre can be shown to the public.
Sara Jobson researches sea cucumbers, their immunology and how they respond to stress.
Even though there was a week-long state of emergency after the massive snow storm, Jobson said the stress level of the sea cucumbers she studies didn’t go off the charts.
“The critters that we study are very hearty animals,” said Jobson. “So we were really lucky we didn’t see a lot of trauma to our animals in our lab. But it did push back our research by the full week.”