I feel like we’ve been quite negative about Vancouver so it’s time to write about something that we thoroughly enjoyed and definitely lived up to the hype – the Vancouver Aquarium. Nestled in the middle of Stanley Park, which will be getting its own post, the aquarium is home to over 70,000 animals. The main attraction is the sea otters that were just as cute as the first ones we saw in Monterey Bay aquarium on our US travels last year. We also saw penguins, beluga whales, dolphins and lots of pretty coloured fish.
It was on our way to the aquarium that we got our first glimpse of ‘Hollywood North’ as we were prevented from crossing a path by a security guard as we were actually about to pass a film set. We waited patiently for them to finish the scene before being allowed to cross – slightly confused at first to what was going on! We later learnt that Vancouver is the third largest centre for film and TV production in North America, with LA and New York being the top 2. According to the lady in the Tourist Information Centre, it’s because it’s cheaper to film in Canada compared to the other side of the border.
Back at the aquarium we caught the sea otter talk, which meant we got to watch them lie on their backs and stuff their faces with various types of sea food including shrimp ice cubes. They have super thick fur, with 100,000 hair strands per square centimetre, and we were able to stroke a fur they had on display which was incredibly soft – you can see why they were hunted for it!
The whales and dolphins both put on a very good show, showing off by jumping incredibly high and trying to get those in the front row as wet as possible. There has been a fair amount of press coverage about the controversy surrounding keeping dolphins and whales in captivity but the aquarium was keen to tell us about the important role the animals are playing in their research efforts.
All that swimming and jumping is a lot of effort. Therefore, Pacific Dolphins like these need to eat the equivalent of 68 salmon a day to get all the energy that they need!
One of the coolest and ugliest creatures they had was the electric eel. He may look like a pair of stuffed tights but he kills his dinner by discharging up to 600 volts of electricity. The aquarium was making good use of this by hooking his tank up to some fairy lights in the tree above which would occasionally flicker on.
We were lucky to visit at a time when it was relatively quiet, apparently it gets incredibly busy during the summer months but they do offer adult only evenings which allow you to avoid the screaming kids. It was definitely one of the best aquariums we’ve been to – we stayed right till the end, just leaving before they chucked us out!