Two and a half years ago, marine biologist Megan Bosch opened a small aquarium in a shipping container on the pier of Kaikoura, New Zealand. Step by step, the project grew and Megan could move the aquarium to a real building on the pier where it continues to grow and change every day.
Megan, what inspired you to open the Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium?
I am passionate about the marine environment. It gets me excited and I would do anything to help the ocean where I can because I am aware of all the amazing animals that call it home and all the complex ecosystems within. I want to excite children the same way and even adults – to show them things they have never seen before and to open up the world of the ocean to them from the safety of dry land. This will hopefully in time spawn many new conservationists that never knew they loved the ocean so much before!
Where does the money for the electricity bills and your lunch come from?
We seek donations and funding from several sources each year. However, it is our mission to become self sufficient as we can’t rely on donations. We use the funds gathered from the admission fee to expand, grow and add to our collection. We also use these funds to keep the aquarium open and donate where we can to very helpful volunteers and fisherman through food, vouchers etc.
What does a normal day look like for you?
I wake up, get into the car and come down to check on the animals, turn the lights on, feed the animals and make sure all is ok – fix whatever is not. I get the aquarium ready for customers or schools: clean all glass and tanks and floors. I prepare information and update sightings boards. I also collect seaweed and fish food, put out the plankton trap and the fish trap. And then there is cleaning, customers, office work, computer work; I clean and check at the end of day and do it all over again tomorrow.
On other occasions there will be meetings squeezed in, a boat trip, or training volunteers, or giving a talk etc. And I always work on displays, painting and expanding.
What was your highlight of the past three years?
The fact that we are still open and growing strong. Even through the quiet winter months when many businesses here shut – we are still open!
Also all the school groups that continue to book with us year after year and the more than 33,000 visitors we have attracted with little advertising! Plus all the amazing animals I have been privileged to host temporarily – I have seen some great things!
What was the most frustrating thing that happened?
Other than having to go through paper work and fees to get legitimate signage on the roads, very frustrating, the only other thing I can think of is the fact that the sight we are on is for sale by the council and has been for 9 years – they are trying to build a ginormous hotel complex on the wharf. So it is frustrating that the land and building we are in, is not owned by the aquarium. But the council are very supportive and accomodating.
What makes you get up in the morning?
To check on and feed the animals, make sure they are ok – every morning! And I am excited as to who is coming for a visit today!
What is your dream for the future of the aquarium?
My dream is to have a nice big building on the wharf with accommodation for schools and uni groups, with a lab room and a nice facility that has state of the art filtering capabilities that can draw and filter water 24 hours. Larger tanks and a lecture room – also a dissection facility and a rehabilitation room for injured marine life.
Looking back to the beginning: Which recommendation would you give yourself?
I actually can’t think of anything I would have changed or done better in the past. What I did, lead me to where I am today and I couldn’t imagine it any other way! It only gets better and bigger from here.
Megan, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. All the best for you wonderful project!
More information on Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium can be found on their website and on Facebook.