After a quarter century on the job, the president and CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium and Ocean Wise organization is calling it quits.
John Nightingale announced Thursday that he’s hanging up his hat at the end of the year. The Aquarium says an internal search for his replacement is already underway.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a career doing work close to my heart: ocean conservation, raising public awareness, supporting leading science, and making use of that science to effect change during an era when our blue planet needed it most,” said Nightingale in a statement.
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Nightingale took the aquarium’s top job in 1993 when founding director Murray Newman retired. Prior to his role in Vancouver, Nightingale served as assistant director at the New York Aquarium.
Over the last two and a half decades, Nightingale co-founded the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood Program and the Coastal Ocean Research Institute.
In 2017, he spearheaded the creation of Ocean Wise, a new global conservation organization of which the aquarium is now a component part.
“From the very beginning, John knew that, by bringing the oceans to life for people, we would amaze, engage and inspire a community of ocean conservationists – and he was right,” said Randy Pratt, chair of the Ocean Wise board of directors.
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Nightingale has also been a passionate defender of the aquarium’s controversial cetacean program, arguing the research conducted at the aquarium was vital to the conservation of species in the wild.
Despite that, during his tenure, the aquarium has gone from displaying multiple varieties of cetaceans, including performing orcas and beluga whales, to housing just one final cetacean resident, Helen the Pacific white-sided dolphin.