Need some time away from the kids or just enjoy going to events where children won’t be around, the Vancouver Aquarium hosts an adults-only night After Hours event three times of year! It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the Aquarium and treat yourself. Normally, you can’t purchase alcohol at the Aquarium but they make an exception for this event. It’s a nice treat to indulge when you would normally only be sipping water or pop while exploring and learning! I haven’t been to the Aquarium in a while and as the number of tickets are limited, we had an opportunity to observe the animals and sea life, speak to the staff and explore without the venue being too crowded. Without the crowds it was a lot easier to explore and take photos!
We were one of the first people admitted and we immediately went to the Wet Lab. The Wet Lab is in a semi-classroom setting where you get to have hands on time with a variety of invertebrates (animals without backbones) such as sea cucumbers, jellies, sea stars, sea urchins and craps. We walked around each tank as a staff member explained everything to us from their environment, unique characteristics and how they live. Check out this short clip of our time there –
After putting our hands into the cold water and touching the creatures that we could, our time was up and it was the next groups’ turn. The Wet Lab was such a fun experience and the time flew by! We would have went back to the Wet Lab if time permitted. I would recommend going to the Wet Lab first as the lineups got longer as the night went on!
Unfortunately, the weather was too cold for the penguins but the dolphins were allowed out. We headed to watch the “Caring For Dolphins” presentation. Watching the trainers interact with the dolphins was priceless and you could see the connection they share and how the dolphins loved to show off. The show was more than just entertainment as we learned about how the dolphins form relationships, and receive training and health care.
As soon as I saw the sign for the belugas, I headed right over to see them despite the pouring rain. I took some time just to watch them and appreciate their beauty. We were lucky for a few minutes, my friend and I were the only ones watching these gorgeous animals swim and relax in the water. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to the belugus. One of the experiences I would love is to spend time with them behind the scenes or in their natural environment.
During the evening, there were multiple talks and interactive experiences planned – we checked out the 4-D Experience and the Ask the Staff panel where we were able to ask staff members our questions. There were other events such as Up Close with Snakes and Up Close with Dissections but we didn’t get a chance to see them, as there were not enough hours in the evening for us! Besides watching the animals, my favourite exhibit was “Treasures Of The BC Coast”. The reason why I loved it is that it allows you to see inside the waters that surround us, i.e. the BC coastal waters. It’s an exhibit that you can’t miss when you visit the Aquarium. I was able to catch a glimpse of what is below the water surfaces that I kayak and travel in.
One of the things that resonated with me were the animals and their stories. I’ve heard about the aquarium’s research and rescue operations from others and the Aquarium but I didn’t know about their practices. After reading about it and doing some research of my own, I felt confident that they aren’t keeping the animals there for our enjoyment but to care for them. The only new Cetaceans that are kept from the wild now are animals that can’t be released. Here is a quick summary of their policy about keeping cetacean in their facilities.
We are a leader in managing our cetacean populations, which includes our belugas and Pacific white-sided dolphins. On September 16, 1996, Vancouver Aquarium took a leadership role and became the first (and only) aquarium in the world to make a commitment to no longer capture cetaceans (whales and dolphins) from the wild for display and to only care for:
- Cetaceans that were captured before 1996
- Cetaceans that were already being kept in a zoo or aquarium before 1996
- Cetaceans that were born in a zoo or aquarium
- Cetaceans that were rescued from the wild and rehabilitated, but deemed non-releasable by the appropriate government authorities
We do not and will not capture wild cetaceans for display. The last dolphin collected for the Aquarium was in 1971 and the last cetacean of any kind was collected in 1990 when our beluga whale, Aurora, joined us.” Read the rest at An Open Letter on Cetaceans in Our Care
I understand that there are multiple opinions about Aquariums but I believe that the Vancouver Aquarium is doing the right thing and learning from these animals with research. An added bonus is being able to educate people about some of the issues that these animals face and how we can make a difference. If people can connect with the animals and learn from them, hopefully they will take their experiences out into the wild and apply the knowledge. This post isn’t about if Aquariums are right or wrong but I wanted to touch on their policies as I know it’s an important issue to many.
I’m still enjoying my time at the aquarium through my memories and my photos. My friend and I loved the adults-only After Hours experience at the Aquarium and I’ll be back to check out the next one! Have you been to After Hours?