Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Clown fish in the Tropic Zone
I've been to several world-class aquariums in my life. Monterey (MBARI) and San Diego (Sea World) spring to my mind—the first is primarily into research and education, the second is more performance oriented but has a strong subtext of education too.

With only two days in Vancouver, I had to make tough decisions about where I should spend my time. It was early March and the weather, though dry, was grey and chilly. So the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park was an ideal choice, especially as I wanted to try out some activities of interest to families visiting from overseas.

Dolphin pool 

Since last taking my daughter there when she was in elementary school, and she is now nearly thirty (!), I was impressed by the improvements, which are on-going. The exhibits inside are stunning and the marine mammals in the huge pools can be seen up close outside and in underwater viewing galleries.

Belugas from Canada's Arctic and Pacific White-sided Dolphins from our wild coast put on shows for the public throughout the day and are worth watching, though not as spectacular as the performing Orcas, etc., at Sea World. Kids cannot be dragged away from the sea otters on the surface and underwater, and adults are not immune from their heart-stopping cuteness either. The African Penguins are the next cutest at Penguin Point....

A male Gramma fish

The tanks inside in the various galleries are fascinating—from Frogs Forever to the Tropic Zone; from the Treasures of the BC Coast to the Amazon Rain Forest; from the Strait of Georgia to the North Coast of BC; from jellyfish to sharks and giant turtles. They're all there in huge tanks, up close and personal. There's even a 4D theatre to enjoy with thrilling sensory effects, including smells.

The Vancouver Aquarium is a wonderful choice for something to see and do in any weather with kids or without.

And, if you want to make a day of it in the summer months, the seawall around Stanley Park offers plenty of views, beaches, and cafes. There's even carriage rides, a miniature railway, and a splash park that enchant children as well.

IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2013. All rights reserved.