The Vancouver Aquarium is without a doubt the most amazing aquarium I've ever been to. It features arctic sea creatures: Pacific White Sided Dolphin, Beluga Whales, Sea Otters, Sea Lions, etc. But also it has a whole tropics section including an alligator and lots of frogs. And an open air caged area with exotic birds and even a sloth hanging from the walls. If he was lower I could've touched him! There were plenty of interactive exhibits as well as shows/talks led by the staff.
The otters were by far my favorite. I learned that they have the densest coats of all animals, and they have more hair in one inch on their bodies than humans have on their whole body. They store food in the folds of their armpits and eat at least their entire body weight once per day because they have no blubber and need to keep warm. Plus they're freaking adorable. See for yourself:
The dolphin show/training session was very impressive. The trainers specified that the dolphins are trained with positive reinforcement only and are free to leave training class whenever they wish. But, as with all the animals, they were rescued from dangerous situations, and cannot live in the wild because of impairments (which is awesome that they aren't yanking these guys out of their natural habitats just for zoo purposes), the trainers find they live longer and happier with challenges given to them. So the otters are given tubes and packages to open with food inside and the dolphins and whales are taught tricks. Pretty darn cool.
The Beluga Whales were so wonderful to watch. One of the females had just had a baby, and was put in a separate tank so they could bond. I loved watching the mom and baby swim around together! The baby would follow the mom, touching her underside with her head every few feet or so. The mom would circle around, bump the baby lovingly, and then twist away from her, beckoning her to follow. It just struck me how loving and gentle these huge animals are. Whoever says that animals are just animals...lesser beings...are full of it. It was wonderful to watch this little (huge) family!
On the inside there were a lot of interesting fish. There was a fish I have never heard of called the hagfish that releases a slime when it is in danger that makes it too slippery to catch. It also has no jaw but is a predator. Want to know how that works? It eats its prey from the inside out. And the gross thing is that scientists are looking into it being a food source as we're depleting our oceans. There were spindly sea snakes in a tank with 3 little orange fish. It was only a matter of time before the fish would be eaten. It was so sad watching the scared little fish move around every time a snake would come near. I was just thinking how he must be singing "just keep swimming" in a trembling fish voice... These events aside, I think the most disturbing thing at the aquarium was that they had tuna sandwiches on the menu at the cafe...
Good family fun! : )