Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stingrays, otters, and belugas - visiting Vancouver Aquarium

 It's spring break right now for my kids: two weeks off school, and as usual we've been roaming around locally to entertain ourselves. My kids love the Vancouver Aquarium, so last week, that's where we ended up.

There's a brand new exhibit at the aquarium: Discover Rays Touch Pool, an interactive stingray exhibit where you get to put your hand in the water and actually touch the rays when they swim up to you and soar by. It was our first time experiencing this new attraction (it only opened on March 10th this year), but it was an instant hit with the kids. Judging by the crowd around the stingray pool, it was also a big hit with everyone else.
Peekaboo, sting ray!
Of course, there are some ground rules for this exhibit: you rinse your hands and arms (up to the elbow) in the provided faucets, you remove jewelry and roll up your sleeves, and you don't grab the stingrays. The advice is to just hold your hand flat under the water and let the rays touch you as they zoom and soar by. Worked a charm for us. You definitely want to wash your hands afterwards too, using some soap and water...

While the stingrays were definitely the highlight of this particular visit, my children also loved visiting with the otters (one of them was playing rather adorably with a ball at the time), and getting a real closeup look at the belugas in the Arctic exhibit below ground.

 We had one very curious beluga come up and take a good look at us through the glass, giving me a chance to get some pretty great photos.

As usual, we ate our packed lunch on the lower floor next to the dolphin pool, looking in through the glass at Helen, the Pacific white-sided dolphin, and Chester, the false killer whale rescued from a beach last year.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and also a very busy day at the Aquarium. I learned one thing: you should renew your membership online or over the phone, not at the Aquarium itself - at least not during spring break... Let's just say the lineup for membership signups and renewals was not moving all that quickly!

Once inside, there is a lot to see for kids and grownups: the frogs, all the different kinds of jellyfish, the tropical gallery with its snakes and monkeys and parrots, and a lot more. The Vancouver Aquarium is not a cheap place to go, but it remains one of those local places my kids never really get tired of visiting.
  • For hours and rates, visit the Vancouver Aquarium's website
  • To avoid lineups, buy your tickets or memberships online, or get your tickets at the vending machines outside the Aquarium.

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