Former Vancouver Aquarium CEO John Nightingale dies at 75

Nightingale was director of the Vancouver Aquarium from 1993 to 2018, expanding its science, research and conservation programs.

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John Nightingale, the world leader in ocean conservation and the Vancouver Aquarium for a quarter of a century, died Monday.

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The 75-year-old man passed away in Vernon after a brief battle with cancer.

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He left us alone watching from his sunny patio surrounded by family and musicsays an obituary.

Born in Colorado and raised in Oregon, the fisheries biologist moved to Vancouver in 1993 after working at the New York Aquarium, the Seattle Aquarium and the Maui Ocean Center.

Nightingale was director of the Vancouver Aquarium from 1993 to 2018 and has expanded its science, research and conservation programs, developing non-profit initiatives including Ocean Wise and its Coastal Ocean Research Institute and the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

Formerly known as the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center, Ocean Wise works to protect the oceans by creating pathways for the sustainable sourcing of seafood.

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John Nightingale
John Nightingale in 2016. Photo by Jason Payne /vancouver sun

“John loved working together to strategize to help solve Earth’s environmental problems, particularly as they relate to its oceans,” his wife, Jacqueline Gijssen, posted Thursday on LinkedIn.

“He passionately believed that conservation begins with engagement, connecting people to nature and building a commitment to conservation through inspiration and knowledge.”

Gijssen also shared a final message that Nightingale recorded for his former colleagues, friends, and staff, just days before his passing:

“I leave this world saddened by all the work that remains to be done that I am so passionate about, but most of all I am saddened to lose the opportunity to work with all of you in the future… I want to strongly encourage you to continue forward with momentum and vigor, committing yourself to the beauty, problems and needs of our ecosystems, particularly the world’s oceans.

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In 2018, when he stepped down as director of the Vancouver Aquarium, he told Postmedia News that he was very proud to have turned the local institute into a global force for ocean conservation by engaging people around the world on related issues. with the oceans.

Under his watch, attendance at the facility grew from 750,000 to 1.2 million in 2016. It also became a self-sustaining organization with revenue-generating subsidiaries to support its $40 million-a-year operations.

Nightingale also created for-profit subsidiaries that, among other things, helped create a shark exhibit at a Las Vegas hotel and now run Europe’s largest aquarium, L’Oceanografic in Valencia, Spain, on a long-term contract. term.

“John’s impact on the city of Vancouver and the millions of guests who enjoyed the aquarium will be felt for generations,” the nonprofit organization said in a statement Thursday.

“John encouraged aquarium visitors to look at our ocean and the world from different perspectives. He insisted that the aquarium globe be placed ‘upside down’ to force people to question their own perspectives and impact on climate change.

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– With files from Daphne Bramham

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