I haven’t posted in almost two weeks, as I was vactioning in Vancouver for the Olympics. The Olympic experience was fantastic, but during my trip I also wanted to follow our tradition of visiting the public aquarium of whatever city we traveled to. The Vancouver Aquarium resides in a beautiful area of Vancouver called Stanley Park, which is full of walkways, huge trees, sea walls, and much more. The area around the aquarium is very nicely landscaped, and easy to navigate.
One of the first areas that we toured inside the aquarium was a series of biotope aquariums from around British Columbia. They really did a fantastic job showcasing the different habitats throughout the province, providing excellent signage and information plates throughout. As someone who really appreciates native North American habitats and fishes, this may have been my favorite section of the aquarium.
One of the natives that I enjoying watching was this sculpin (below). Since sculpin don’t have swim bladders, they lay prone on the ground and dart around. To me, this tends to give them a little bit of personality, and this particular fish seemed to be posing for the camera.
Speaking of swim bladders, we got invited into a classroom area by a couple of interns to watch them dissect a salmon. All the while, they pointed out the various prominent parts of the fish anatomy, including the swim bladder, heart, liver, testes, gills, etc… They also talked about how the aquarium tracks various fishes in the wild using embedded transmitters that they surgically implant into the animal so that they can monitor their life cycles.
Like most aquariums these days, they had a nice jellyfish exhibit, back-lit with the intense blue lighting.
One of the things I was most impressed with throughout the aquarium was the aquascaping ability of the maintainers for these tanks. In some public aquariums, they do a fine job showcasing the inhabitants of the tank, but in Vancouver, it was obvious that they were equally concerned with making the habitat equally as attractive without making it look artificial. A fine example of that is this reef “clownfish” aquarium where they used a combination of macro-algae, rocks, and anemones to really make a nice display tank. Well done!
Like the aquarium in Baltimore, the Vancouver Aquarium also has nice tropical exhibit which includes a rain forest area. The rain forest had a series of parrots, butterflies, and other animals from the Amazon on display.
They had a rather large aquarium showcasing one of my favorite South American beasts, the Arapaima, an air-breathing fish that can survive very low oxygen levels. They can grow to over 400lbs, and are very prehistoric looking creatures. I very much enjoy everytime I’m able to see one.
The Aquarium also has a nice amphibian exhibit, including a whole set of terrariums featuring frogs from around the world. I thought that this particular terrarium was another nice example of putting together an attractive layout, while still showcasing the tiny frogs therein.
It wasn’t just the small colorful frogs that were on display, however. They also included a few others, such as bullfrogs, which are an invasive species in this part of the country, which were originally introduced as a food source. (frog legs)
Outside, there were several much larger pools containing dolphins, whales, turtles, and other large sea creatures. While you could view all of the pools from above, each pool was also available to be viewed underground via a series of rooms that included more information and more views into the tanks. One area that was particularly interesting was an arctic fishes exhibit, showing fish and other animals that thrive in sub-zero waters.
Having been to several public aquariums throughout the U.S., I always hope that each new one will offer something different from the rest. The Vancouver Aquarium did that with theor B.C. set of exhibits, and their superior attention to presenting nicely aquascaped aquariums throughout. They also had an equally as impressive 4D theater which featured a short Planet Earth “Shallow Seas” film in 3D with water sprays, seat rumbles, and bubbles in the air during the show. It was a nice value-add to an otherwise exceptional experience. I highly recommend visiting the Vancouver Aquarium.