My daughter and I had the pleasure of visiting the Vancouver Aquarium on Friday. It was so amazing to be back. It almost felt like returning home. Now after having a rocky time since the pandemic with multiple closures, the Aquarium has a new owner and is ready for the public to come back and see them.
The Aquarium has been a staple in my life since having children. When my eldest was just a baby we had an annual membership and would spend many rainy or sunny days just watching the fish, jellies, and mammals. We also loved the kid’s area, Clownfish Cove, a perfect place for kids ages eight and younger to play at the seaside dock with “underwater” tunnels to explore, touch table, and reading nook. The fun, interactive, learning experiences of Clownfish Cove encourage a sense of responsibility regarding conservation in both children and caregivers. The goal is to help create caring kids—while they play.
The start of our recent visit to the Aquarium was very familiar to visits in the past. We visited the tropical area and tried to spot the sloth, he was hiding high up in the trees and was tricky to find as usual. We saw the monkeys, bats, and caimans. Then to cool down we ventured outside and saw a few of the rescued mammals.
The new Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is the only facility of its kind in Canada and one of the largest rescue facilities in the world. The rescued residents, now find sanctuary at the Vancouver Aquarium after being deemed non-releasable by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Aquarium rescues distressed marine animals, including seals and sea lions. Their rescue centre rehabilitates them for release back to our local waters, unless their injuries are too severe, or they were orphaned too young to fend for themselves. These animals find sanctuary at the Aquarium and act as ambassadors for their kind, teaching visitors about the human-caused issues they face in the wild.
One notable change is that the Stellar sea lions have got a new home. This spectacular exhibit prominently features an active research station, bringing their behind-the-scenes research to the forefront. It helps you understand the critical role these animals play in protecting their counterparts in the wild. The viewing windows downstairs provide a great spot to get nose to nose with these majestic, curious animals.
After exploring the mammals and BC Coast exhibit, we got to enjoy the 4D Theatre Experience. The 4D seat system includes an astounding number of features and effects, each one carefully choreographed to the film on the screen. You get to immerse yourself in the 4D experience and be transported into the action through the special effects of sound, smell, touch, lights, and weather effects. It can be a little too immersive, but my 6 yo, although scared, braved it and watch the entire Octopus: Blue Planet II 4D Experience®. To be honest, I was a little frightened at points too!
On our way out, we stopped at the Courtyard Cafe to enjoy a meal from the Aquarium’s culinary team. The healthy, sustainable and family-friendly food choices offered a wide range of freshly made offerings, including vegetarian options. All of the seafood selections are 100% Ocean Wise, a conservation program that the Vancouver Aquarium founded to encourage ocean-friendly seafood choices. I had the Tuna Poke which was delicious, although I do sometimes feel a little guilty eating seafood at the Aquarium.
All and all, an afternoon or morning visit to the Aquarium is definitely a “must-do”. Visitors and Members must reserve tickets online, in advance. Tickets are date and time specific to control the number of people in the Aquarium at one time to facilitate physical distancing. That being said, there is no end time to your visit. The Aquarium wants you to stay as long as you like so you can fully enjoy your time and take in all the magic and wonder that the Aquarium offers.