Born in Chicago in 1924, Murray Newman kept tropical fish as a boy. He graduated from the University of Chicago in zoology and spent three years in the US Navy and Marine Corps in the South Pacific during World War II. He studied marine biology at the University of Hawaii and did research at Steinhart Aquarium while he gained his master's degree in zoology at the University of California, Berkeley. As a Ph.D candidate in fish biology, he was appointed head of the Vancouver Aquarium in 1955--with no experience beyond his master's degree, and no aquarium. When it opened in 1956, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre became the first public aquarium built in Canada.

Newman's memoirs in Life in a Fishbowl: Confessions of an Aquarium Director (D&M 1994) reveal his integral links to timber baron H.R. MacMillan and the procedures and process by which Vancouver became home to the world's first captive killer whale, Moby Doll, as well as the belugas Bela and Lugosi and a crocodile named Cuddles. Newman, a longtime resident of West Vancouver, remained as founding director until 1993. He provided a slightly less personal account of the museum's growth in his second book, People, Fish and Whales: The Vancouver Aquarium Story (Harbour, 2006). "An aquarium is something like an iceberg," he wrote, "most of it is hidden from view." Dr. John Nightingale, who joined the Vancouver Aquarium in 1993, became its president and provided some of the text for People, Fish and Whales.

Half a century after it was founded, the Vancouver Aquarium was home to 60,000 aquatic creatures, and supported an annual operating budget of approximately $13 million.


Fishbowl: Confessions of an Aquarium Director (D&M 1994)
People, Fish and Whales: The Vancouver Aquarium Story (Harbour, 2006)

[BCBW 2006] "Biology"