It took almost two years to build, start to finish, but the careful design and consideration of natural habitat at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station, combined with a fascinating look at the sea life that surrounds us on the Island, has combined to create a compelling destination.
The marine station is located a little off the beaten path at Deep Bay, a small waterfront community at the south end of Baynes Sound on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Operated by Vancouver Island University, the centre is home to research facilities, culinary events (usually featuring shellfish), educational opportunities, social events and a myriad of intriguing sea life. For visitors, it offers a glimpse into the spectacular world of the ocean and all the beautiful (and some not-so-beautiful) creatures that inhabit it. There is a huge aquarium located on the upper floor and a series of ‘touch tanks’ on the lower floor that encourages kids of all ages to handle the sea life therein. Interpretive signage throughout the building chronicles much of what goes on at the centre, and views of the research labs can be seen from the upper mezzanine, looking downwards.
The building itself is an inspired design in the shape of a clam shell – fitting, considering its purpose. It is totally wheelchair-accessible and incorporates hundreds of environmentally-friendly features, keeping with VIU’s goals of sustainability. A glance at the poster featuring current and future plans for development of the site reinforces the dedication to the ‘greenest’ project humanly possible.
In addition to all of the sea life and interpretive displays the field station is graced with some fine-looking artwork in various mediums. On the upper floor there is a small gift shop area filled with beautiful ocean-oriented items courtesy of the Salish Sea Market, a unique shop in nearby Bowser that features local artisans.
The field station is open 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. daily with the occasional closing for special events, so best to check the website calendar prior to making a foray in that direction. Admission is a very reasonable $7 for adults, $3 for children (6-17 years) and kids under 6 get in free when accompanied by an adult.
Although visitors primarily partake of self-guided tours of the centre, special events offer a broader taste of what makes the place so special – there is something for almost everyone, young or old.
One way or the other, at any time of the year, a trip to the Deep Bay Marine Field Station is well worth the effort. It is filled with unusual beauty and educational opportunities not to be found anywhere else on the Island.
For further information on the Deep Bay Marine Field Station, go to the website at
The centre is located at 370 Chrome Point Road, Bowser/Deep Bay
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.45652068756555 Long. -124.73173141479492
N 49 27.391 W 124 43.904