Treasure of the B.C. Coast

Treasure of the B.C. Coast

While we were in Vancouver to experience the Greenheart Tree Walk and the Museum of Anthropology, we decided to visit the aquarium. Because, as I mentioned before, I’m always up for a trip to an aquarium. Since it hasn’t been that long since we visited Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, it’s difficult not to compare the two (even if they’re not exactly in competition).

The first major difference about the Vancouver Aquarium is its outdoor exhibits. While Ripley’s aquarium is located in the heart of downtown Toronto, surrounded on all sides by huge buildings and a sea of concrete, Vancouver’s aquarium is right on the coast. As such, they’re able to foster a lot of local(ish) wildlife. For instance, they have two beluga whales, several dolphins, sea lions, sea otters (which are WAY bigger than river otters! I never realized) and even penguins.


Many of the large animals at the aquarium are rescues who are unable to survive in the wild. For example, one of their dolphins was caught in a net, which damaged her flippers. One of the other dolphins was stranded alone when he was young, so he never learned how to properly survive in the wild.


Since we arrived first thing in the morning, we were able to watch the first beluga whale show. I was a tad hesitant, as I have mixed feelings about aquariums having choreographed dolphin and whale shows. However, this was nothing like what you see at Sea World. The show mainly consists of the aquarium’s regular trainers working with the animals in the same way they would if there were no people present. Another member of staff narrates, explaining why they perform these sessions (mostly to keep the animals healthy and active). They set expectations from the start that you won’t see a lot of flips or fancy tricks and that, in fact, sometimes the animals will decide not to respond to the trainers at all. Essentially, the staff are just going about their daily activities for the benefit of the animals and, since people are going to be able to see it anyway, they make it a formally scheduled ‘show.’ I was actually impressed by that.

The second major difference between the two aquariums is that the Vancouver aquarium also includes several non-aquatic exhibits. The first is devoted to frogs and snakes.

(Grumpy Frog is Best Frog)

The second is a small chunk of rainforest, including several birds, tortoises and a sloth (which sadly we didn’t manage to spot). The rainforest section includes a crocodile enclosure which was pretty interesting. It was hot enough while we were there that the crocs spent most of their time lounging in the water, trying to keep cool.

(Not a plastic lawn ornament)

Much like every aquarium, Vancouver’s is divided into sections devoted to different regions. We found the BC reef section most interesting. It features local fish and reefs you don’t get to see in a lot of other places. Of course it makes sense that this aquarium would dedicate a sizable chunk of its space to local flora and fauna. They have all the usual sections, including a pacific kelp tank, the typical tropical reef, and a shark tunnel. What aquarium would be complete without a place where you can walk beneath sharks?

(So many Nemos!)

Our final stop was the ‘meet the rays’ exhibit. This is a place where you can pet small rays while they swim in a shallow tank. (I don’t think any of them were full grown.) I’ve never seen anything like this at an aquarium, though the one in Toronto did have a place where you could pet horseshoe crabs. This tank reminded me of the scene in Finding Dorey where the fish are swimming in their tank and, suddenly, a bunch of hands descend to touch them. The first time I pet one of the rays, I think I startled it. The water ended up looking deeper than it actually was and I inadvertently poked it.

(Not one of the rays we were able to pet, this one is much larger)

Some of the rays seemed intent on avoiding the probing hands, but I managed to pet a few as they swam past. Like many sea creatures, they’re actually quite soft and smooth, though they have some bony protrusions on their back that the staff ask you to avoid touching. You’re also supposed to avoid their tails.

(You didn’t think we left without visiting the Jellies, did you? ;) These are Moon Jellies!)

It was a great day. Unfortunately, the octopus was hiding the day we visited. One of the aquarium volunteers told us he has a section in the back of his tank which isn’t directly visible and that he often hides there during the day because he isn’t overly fond of people. I was a bit bummed that a second octopus had decided to hide from me, but I’m sure I’ll get to meet one some day.


3 Replies to “Treasure of the B.C. Coast”

  1. I visited the Vancouver aquarium once years ago! It’s a very cool place.

    Do they still have the little primates? I can’t remember what kind they were, only that they were small and shy because at least one of them had recently had a baby.

    1. Yes! :D They do still have them! I tried to take some pictures, but they came out pretty blurry. They’re in the outdoor jungle area. They were doing pretty well while we were there considering there were a TON of people around (many of them children)! ^^;;

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