We enjoy taking our out-of-province visitors to explore the Vancouver Aquarium. I went there about four years ago with Sunshine and Lily, but that was a quick, stressful visit, so I was looking forward to returning and having more time to explore. We were also excited to see our friends, whom we have seen since our weddings and our oldest daughters’ baptisms.
Ironically, because we stopped to grab lunch at A&W and then missed a turn into Stanley Park, our out-of-town visitors beat us there. We ate our lunch in the playground while the girls got acquainted. Their three girls are about the same ages as our three: the oldest two are a week apart and the youngest two are a year apart.
By the time we headed into the Vancouver Aquarium, they were all the best of friends. We told them to pick a buddy and stick together, but only Sunshine and her friend managed to do that for the entire afternoon.
Our first stop was to watch the otters. One was sleeping on his back, one paw in the air, the current gently pushing him this way and that. He was absolutely adorable. I think we spent about ten minutes watching an otter sleep. Then we went down to the ramp to where the other two otters were busily turned somersaults, until I was dizzy watching them.
Back up the ramp, the girls wanted to play in the touch pool. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as kid-friendly as the touch pools at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre on the Island. We had to lift the girls up to it, and then they had troubles reaching down to gently stroke an anemone. I later learned from my babysitter, who volunteers there, that usually there’d be a volunteer at this station, helping out, but we didn’t spend much time there.
We parked ourselves in the beluga bleachers to wait for the beluga show. The two belugas swam circles around their pen and I convinced Jade (who wasn’t so keen on waiting) that they were playing peek-a-boo with her by raising their eyes above the water. They are amazingly graceful animals whose bright white colour sure stands out against the dark water. The beluga show was a ton of fun. I didn’t know that belugas are Canada’s most common whale or much of anything else about them, actually.
After that, we heard the start of the penguin show and so we headed over there. The penguins were tiny and absolutely adorable, but they didn’t participate much in their show. I actually thought it was neat to see that they weren’t trained to entertain a crowd, but simply did whatever they wanted… just like penguins.
From there, we headed inside to explore the rest of the Vancouver Aquarium (aka try to keep track of six little girls in a crowded venue). They really enjoyed most of the tanks and wandering through the rainforest area with the snakes, frogs and birds. I am always amazed by the crazy creatures found underwater. Like these weird eels or fish that popped in and out of the sand (checking us out as much as we were checking them out):
We saw tiny sea horses and the octopus, sharks and sea turtles. I could watch jelly fish and manta rays for hours. There were tanks of tropical fish and tanks of fish from the local seas, with maps to indicate where on the coast of BC this “habitat” was located. Sunshine wanted me to read some of the signs to her, and other times she just ran back and forth with her buddy, enjoying the various sea creatures.
Then we got in lineup for the 4D movie, featuring “Sea Monsters.” It was a lot of fun and the girls were quite impressed by the special effects; Sunshine’s friend thought the sea monster was after her. Jade managed to sleep through most of it (even getting squirted with water) but woke up at the end.
We went back to the stroller parking to get our strollers and Jade saw the kids’ area. With a glance at each other, us parents were in agreement that this was a good time to stop.
In moments, all the kids were happily being veterinarians to the stuffed sea creatures, or driving a boat, or exploring the tunnel through the aquarium, while we caught up on our news, like the differences between house-hunting in Vancouver and Saskatoon.
After that, we decided it was time to call it a day at the Vancouver Aquarium, even though we still hadn’t caught all the shows or seen everything. My husband and I had gotten a family pass this trip, so we’ll be back to check out the other things.
One thing I love about visiting the Vancouver Aquarium is that they are always different; the sea animals change and grow so it’s always interesting to see what’s new. We didn’t see the octopus this time, but we did see the sea turtle and shark. The pregnant male sea horse wasn’t around, so maybe he finally had his babies. The eels in the sand always make me laugh. And I could watch jellyfish for hours.
For more about our visit to the Vancouver Aquarium, check out my video highlights:
To find out more about what’s going on at the Vancouver Aquarium, drop by their website.