Marine Debris Initiative

Our Microplastic and Marine Debris initiative was one of the first projects in British Columbia to scientifically monitor microplastic pollution in coastal sediments

From 2017 to 2021, the Ucluelet Aquarium conducted monthly surveys that engage citizen scientists through data collection of microplastic pollution in sediment along local beaches.

Microplastics and Marine Debris have serious impacts on the marine environment. Marine species often will ingest or become entangled in plastic causing injury or death. Plastic has even become a vessel for invasive species altering the balance of some ecosystems. Plastic contains chemicals, as well as accumulates toxic contaminants leading to issues of bioaccumulation of toxins in food chains, with possible implications for human food safety and health. 

Read our Final Report to learn more about our marine debris findings. 


Sea Star Wasting Syndrome


In recent years, much of the Pacific coast of North America has experienced a mass die-off of its sea star population. Since the first case documented in June 2013, this disease known as “sea star wasting syndrome” (SSWS) has now affected up to 20 different species of sea stars. Symptoms of the SSWS include lesions, limb autotomy, loss of turgor, and eventually death by rapid tissue disintegration.

The Ucluelet Aquarium has paired with the Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society and UCSC to conduct monthly sea star surveys. The surveys will help researches assess the progression and extent of the disease.

For more information on sea star wasting visit