The Vancouver Aquarium: More that Just an Aquarium, It’s a Marine Sanctuary!

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is one of the biggest aquariums in the whole of North America.  A visit to it is certainly a good idea when passing by the city of Vancouver in the Canadian province of British Columbia (or B.C. for short).

Local tourism has given the entire province the “Beautiful BC” title that is true in many respects, especially as it applies to the Vancouver Aquarium, which has been in existence since 1956.  It is home to 70,000 beautiful marine animals, in a sprawling facility with a combined total of 100,000 feet; and, two and a half million gallons of water!

You will find Beluga whales and dolphins dancing to every tune, but you will have a profound respect for the Vancouver Aquarium soon enough.  For this is not your resort-style commercial aquarium where you can sometimes imagine animals “working” in sweatshops.

The foremost goal of the Vancouver Aquarium is to educate first and to entertain later.  What this means is the vast collection of marine species of Noah’s Ark proportions is not meant to exploit the entertainment value of cute animals—but to remind mankind that the clock is ticking before these creatures are gone.

This explains why the Vancouver Aquarium houses a special section for frogs to highlight just how many species of frogs around the world are up for extinction.  Apart from the teasers or bite-size information posted on aquarium glasses, many marine scientists walk the talk in this massive marine sanctuary.

The Vancouver Aquarium is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily.  But the work of marine biologists are non-stop here, conducting serious researches on say, orca vocalizations or the very delicate terms of whale adoption.  So if you see a Beluga whale jump in the air and splash water all over you, do not think for a second that the animal is just trying to be cute!

As marine scientists have found out in this Vancouver Aquarium and marine science institute in one, the whales do this specific act not to flirt with the audience, but to express sheer pleasure with hunting as a pack in true wildlife. But before you get any Free Willy ideas, hear out more about what the marine coaches in this institute have to say.

Indeed, the Vancouver Aquarium is threading that fine line between circus and environmental conservation.  And it admits to doing this for the higher calling of saving more endangered species in the long run.  Here is one fine example, try Googling for “sea otters” and chances are you will come across the YouTube video of two cute sea otters holding hands.  Yes, these two are (or one is) Vancouver Aquarium residents.  Their names are Nyac and Milo.  Nyac passed away in September 2008.  The two creatures were rescued from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Tragic the demise of Nyac the sea otter may be, the Vancouver Aquarium admits that sometimes you have to exploit cuteness to get the public’s attention to the more serious subject of good environmental stewardship.  Well life is just like that.

Doctors are now keenly aware that having a cute animal for a companion, or just looking at one, may relieve stress, which in turn leads to cardiac arrest prevention over the long term.  So before you turn your back on the price of admission at the Vancouver Aquarium’s doors, just imagine how many cute marine animals you will be missing.

And you’ll be helping their cause, too, here at the Vancouver Aquarium.  Like for example the Pacific White-Sided dolphins which serve as a reminder that dolphins are the second most intelligent animals on the planet, second only to man!  Mind you, these excellent performers were actually rescued by Vancouver Aquarium staff when they got entangled in fish nets just off the coast of Japan!  Many of them have actual scars to show in their fins or skin.

So when you watch the dolphin show out here at the Vancouver Aquarium, don’t think for a second that it’s just a show.  Just imagine the traumas that many of these marine animals have gone through.  Even the Steller sea lions have a story to tell.

Certainly, the efforts by the Vancouver Aquarium’s dedicated marine science staff will not be in vain if you come out of the aquarium with the realization that many of the animals here have a lot in common with people.  Many of them are true survivors who learned to overcome their trauma and have moved on.

With that realization still fresh in your head, try taking a stroll of world famous Stanley Park, Vancouver’s 1,000-acre forest conservation area opened in 1888.  Chances are, you came to the compound of the Vancouver Aquarium from one of the park’s main entrances, so why not? Complete the journey!

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