At the end of a crushed shell road lies the Deep Bay Marine Field Station, a research facility run by Vancouver Island University. It’s a gorgeous location overlooking Deep Bay and the station is spectacular in its design, looking a little like a huge clam shell. In addition to being used by Vancouver Island University for aquaculture and marine conservation research, the facilities are open to the public between 10 and 4, daily (make sure to check during the winter when the hours may be different—we tried a couple of times on the weekend and found the gate closed).
In addition to the working areas of the field station there are three round touch tanks with a whole host of marine organisms. Both C. and A. loved feeling (gently) a variety of seastars, sea cucumbers and sea urchins. We could see other animals like sea anemones, scallops and grotesque geoducks in the tanks as well.
It was fairly quiet when we visited (there was only one other family present) and it was great to spend some time seeing marine animals that are normally only visible at a very low tide or sub-tidally.
On the upper level are two huge salt water aquariums with larger fish and sea anemones. For both kids, these were an excellent place to play a little game of “I Spy” while seeing some deeper water creatures.
The Deep Bay Marine Field Station is a great place to become familiar with some of the marine creatures who call the east coast of Vancouver Island home and to learn about marine aquaculture. It’s a perfect place to take a break along the old Island Highway if you’re travelling between the Comox Valley and Nanaimo. After visiting the field station, it’s worth stopping in at the government wharf to check out some of the fishing boats and there is a small sandy beach nearby which provides excellent opportunities for winter bird watching or a spring picnic.
Shaw TV Video:
Need to Know:
- Hours are 10 to 4, daily – make sure to check before going on the weekend.
- Entrance fee $5/adult or $15/family. Children under age 6 are free.
From the old Island Highway 19A turn onto Gainsburg Road, keep left at the “Y” to stay on Gainsburg Road. When you come to a T junction, turn left onto Burne Road and continue past the wharf by turning left again onto Crome Point Road. Drive through gate and follow the oyster shell road for approximately 800M to the Deep Bay Marine Field Station. The route is well signed from Highway 19A.