A scientist with an artistic soul

At Aquarium du Québec, Caroline Berger is one of those people you’ll spot at the stingray touch tank or the starfish tank. She loves informing visitors about everything to do with the marine world. A true enthusiast, the 32-year-old animal guide also develops a host of educational projects designed for young minds. Here’s our portrait of a multi-talented science popularizer.

Aquarium du Québec Aquarium du Québec
Aquarium du Québec Francis Doucet | © Sépaq

Originally from Lyon, France, Caroline moved to Canada to study biology at Université Laval. Her attachment to the sea, a passion since early childhood, led her to specialize in marine ecology. So it was only natural that she turned to Aquarium du Québec to work as an animal education guide.

Right from the start, she knew she'd found her calling. She loves capturing the public's attention through the various activities she hosts. Whether she's explaining the daily lives of polar bears, seals, or arctic foxes during a commented feeding, or describing the beautiful creatures in the starfish tank, Caroline is definitely in her element!

"When we have the impression that the public is taking a bit of us back home, that someone remembers something we said about an animal, that's what is so gratifying," she confides.

Spreading the spark

Caroline believes that the playful environment in which the Aquarium is immersed is conducive to teaching. "When we talk to visitors about climate change affecting polar bears, for example, we do so to raise awareness. We don't want to make them feel guilty," she admits.

Her role as an animal education guide takes her to the four corners of the region aboard the Aquavan. "Meeting young people in their own environment is always a special moment. I feel we can make a small difference," she proclaims. During these outings, Caroline introduces the Aquarium's various species to children from daycare centres and elementary schools.

Aquavan creates a unique experience: starfish, sea urchins, and even turtles visit the education facilities themselves. For certain youngsters, it's a great opportunity to have a first contact with animals they don't have a chance to see in their daily lives. "Some kids get to touch a starfish for the very first time. It's so cute when they ask me if they're like plants or if they're alive!" she says, amused.

Aquarium du Québec
Aquarium du Québec Stéphanie Allard | © Sépaq
Aquarium du Québec
Aquarium du Québec Stéphanie Tremblay | © Sépaq

Her favourites

Although Caroline says she loves all the animals at the Aquarium - there's something special about them all - she does have her own personal favourites! The stingrays are right at the top of her list. "They're so adorable. Stingrays were the apple of my eye when I arrived at the Aquarium in 2019. They're very popular with visitors. In fact, the thing I say most often in a day is that you have to touch them delicately, with just two fingers!" she laughs.

The giant Pacific octopus is also a species at the top of Caroline’s personal hit parade; the animal's great intelligence fascinates her. This sea creature is capable of using tools, solving problems, and even recognizing its trainers. When Caroline leads group tours, she has no shortage of interesting facts to share about the octopus.

And what about fish? It's the clownfish that catches her eye. The famous Nemo is also the hands-down favourite with the small fry. "It's one of the top five words I hear the most at the Aquarium! They all want to know where he's hiding," shares the animal guide.

Aquarium du Québec
Aquarium du Québec Julie Audet | © Sépaq
Aquarium du Québec
Aquarium du Québec Simon Clark | © Sépaq

Exciting projects

Her profession allows her to work on larger-than-life projects, and Artika is a fine example. The Aquarium's new attraction sheds light on the secrets of the Arctic, thanks to an immersive projection that even incorporates the sensation of cold.

"My colleagues and I collaborated with the firm that produced the video content. We acted as scientific advisors to confirm the species living in the Arctic," explains Caroline. The teamwork certainly paid off. "In fact, we verified everything that’s presented to the public, and it's really interesting to have been able to play such a role," she continues.

These days, she's working on Eau'dorat, a stimulating project to be unveiled in autumn 2023. In preparation for this experiment in marine animal odours, she's sniffing all manner of scents created especially for the occasion.

And that's not counting the educational games, rallies, and themed activities Caroline takes part in throughout the year. From making eco-friendly bath bombs to naturalizing insects and building aquariums, there's no shortage of ideas when she and her colleagues want to entertain young and old alike.

Aquarium du Québec
Aquarium du Québec Francis Doucet | © Sépaq
Aquarium du Québec
Aquarium du Québec Stéphanie Tremblay | © Sépaq

Scientist and artist all in one

Caroline has ever so much to offer! As well as having a scientific bent, she has a passion for literature and is a fan of all things fantastical. She even wrote the Aquarium's latest tale, Lucie et les perles d'imagination (Lucie and the pearls of imagination).

In the not-too-distant future, she would like to pursue a career in scientific communication. She imagines herself as a consultant, journalist, or writer of specialized articles. "My ultimate dream, when I'm 80, is to live in a cabin and write biology books or fiction," she exclaims. In the meantime, she hopes to continue passing on her passion to Aquarium visitors!

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