Saturday, October 13, 2018

Field Trip: Vancouver Aquarium

While my friend Dana was visiting us from South Carolina, we decided to go to Canada. It's only about 150 miles from Seattle to Vancouver, but we had yet to go in the four years we've been in Seattle. I, for one, was very glad to remedy this. The entire trip was amazing, but a highlight for Zoey and I was the Vancouver Aquarium. We made this into a homeschool field trip and we learned so much on our adventures. (Dana and Stephen decided to go to a suspension bridge park instead, since Zoey and I are both afraid of heights, we greatly enjoyed our time at the aquarium instead.)

Now, I will share our Aquarium Adventure though pictures. (Warning: there are many).

The aquarium is located in the beautiful Stanley Park, a huge green space in Vancouver.

At the front of the aquarium was a festival celebrating conservation and environmental consciousness. They talked about how the ecosystems are constructed and how they can be greatly effected by pollution, especially in the waters.

Before we even entered the park, Zoey was already learning about how a turtle can mistake a plastic bag for a jellyfish and other ways our waste cause problems for marine mammals.

A nice man helped Zoey out with this fun game at the entrance. We also learned more about how hard people worked to clean the shoreline and how we can better recycle our waste.

When we entered, we were greeted by salmon! These are very popular in Washington too since we are all part of the same salmon runs every year.

Zoey was really excited when one of the first things was to get her face painted, and there wasn't even a line!

She picked a penguin...too cute!

These jellyfish were bright and engaging to look at. We had barely made it through the door and we were already experiencing so much!

I loved this was bright and green fluorescent.

This guy was so much fun to watch. He looks like a grouch, but I bet he is a really nice fish living on the bottom of the sea.

There were so many different kinds of starfish. This one was cool because you could see the little suctions underneath it. 

Zoey really enjoyed all of the exhibits. She really looked into them and studied them. We talked about how they lived and how they were the same and difference compared to Washington and also back east in the Carolinas.

I sometimes wonder what the fish think about being stared at all day...this one looked like he was staring back.

Zoey was excited to learn that not all starfish have five arms, some have more. She also learned that they could lose an arm and grow a new one, it was great to see her eyes light up with new information.

This crab was great at camaflouge. He's pretty easy to see in the picture, but in the whole tank, he blended right in with the kelp.

This guy was huge! Over half of him was hidden in the kelp and stones.

Another starfish to enjoy looking at all the details. It was so cool to see Zoey look through all of these creatures. Then again, I was enjoying myself just as much as she, I'm fascinated by all of this!

These were Zoey's favorite jelly fish. They are called Moon Jellyfish. They are in a cylinder in the middle of the room that you can walk completely around. It was really cool to watch her study them. I enjoyed it myself.

There were a lot of different jelly fish in this aquarium. Each one seemed to have it's own glow. I would not want to be anywhere near one, but they are beautiful to watch, one of nature's masterpieces.

The octopus was a real life hide and seek puzzle. The tank does not seem that big, but it took a long time to spot the tentacle slowly waving from behind a rock in the back corner. Then Zoey could not get enough of watching it move from it's comfortable cubby.

Zoey wanted to do the jelly fish craft they had set up. It was cute, you color a semi-circle of paper and then punch holes along the bottom to thread string through.

While Zoey did her craft, I explored the antechamber the table was set up in. I found it really stimulating to learn about a different region. In a lot of ways, it is similar to Seattle, but I feel like I'm still learning about this area too.

I adored how this aquarium was laid out. There were lots of places to get lost in and interact with while watching marine animals enjoy their habitats.

I watched this tank for a while. There was this one fish that would come along and flip it's head up out of the water like it needed the air. I didn't find out what that fish was called, but it was fascinating to watch. The above picture is a sting ray. I watched it float along just under the surface of the water for several minutes too.

Then Zoey was done with her craft and wanted to show it off. She did that by introducing her creation to the other jelly fish. Jelly fish, meet Jam, she's trying to be just like you.

Next, we went down the stairs to see the rest of the tank I had been watching from the top. The sting ray gave me a perfect view of his underbelly. It looks like he has feet and a tail.

He wasn't done saying hi though, he came by again and grinned at me.

This big guy also came by in that tank. He reminds me of something evil lurking in a Disney princess movie.

The amphibian exhibit was incredible. There was this frog habitat what you could stick you head in and see 360 degrees of frogs swimming, hopping and sunbathing. You can see only a polar bear peeking out because Zoey said she was afraid to come all the way up. There is a good two feet in depth including the water for the frogs to roam.

They were cool to watch though.

I loved that you could see every stage of the frog's transformation from tadpole to mature frog. Above you can just see the tiny legs beginning to protrude from this tadpole's body. And to the right you can see a younger tadpole just developing eyes. If you looked closely you could even see the baby ones just beginning to swim.

Of course some of them looked like they wanted to escape.

Zoey was fascinated by this mini documentary about how frog catch their prey. She particularly liked the one that burrowed in and waited for a grasshopper to come by and snatch it up before the grasshopper even knew it was in danger.

Then we found the mammals. First up was the dolphin. We saw the underwater tank first. He is a beautiful sight, especially with the sun shinning through the water.

Then we saw him outside.

Zoey watched him for a while. He did little circles swimming in and out of the water.

I think this is a sea lion, if I remember correctly she is the female. She was in a separate place from the other ones and she kept trying to eat at the grate.

I loved the penguin exhibit. It wasn't really very big and it didn't have very many penguins, but I like them anyway. This is the one area where I think the penguin exhibit in the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle has got them beat. Then again, the Zoo doesn't have a sea lion show, so I'm not too worried about it.

This is me cheesing. I was enjoying my moment, I've always loved penguins. Zoey humors me, but actually she likes penguins too. You can tell by the penguin she had painted on her cheek earlier in the day. Ultimately, I don't think was very impressed with the exhibit and was ready for a snack, she had spotted the small stand just on the other side of these penguins.

But look! Penguins! These are African penguins from Cape Town.

So we got a snack. Zoey got some chicken tenders and I tried Poutine.

Poutine, a Canadian cuisine that consists of french fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy. You know what? It was delicious.

Not a bad view for our feast. The sea lion show was in thirty minutes. We decided to take our time eating and stay and watch - we had really good seats for it.

I got a bunch of pictures of the sea lions while we were waiting for the show to start. They did laps in this pool. It looked like they were playing a game. They were really entertaining and one even spit at me.

This one was the one who spit at me, lol.

Then the show was delightful. There were two male sea lions that the trainers where working with. They had several different platforms to stand on and would dance around or wave a flipper. The would swim and splash around as the trainers went through an entire bucket of fish.

The show was fantastic. There was a narrator for the show who talked about conservation and the importance of keeping the animals and the waters safe and clean. She even gave out a number to call in case you ever spot a marine mammal in distress. It was a really well done show that shared a lot of great information and humor.

After the show we watched the otters play. They were huge sea otters too. Two of them were rolling around like two brothers fighting on the living room floor. All my pictures of them together turned out blurry because they were moving so fast. I did manage to get an almost decent picture of this one saying hi as he swam by.

This room was amazing. You could see the sea lions doing their laps and playing their game from under the water. They even had a monitor to let you see what was happening up on the surface when they came up for air. I thought it was really interesting that they swam underwater on their backs. Zoey was memorized. We watched them for a while, I love how she is drawn to their cadence.

The next area had a lot about the research they do to help protect and care for the animals and waters. You could even glimpse into their research lab or holding tanks one through a fish tank between the walls. Zoey enjoyed using the microscope to see how clothing fabrics could look like food to a fish.

Though she was a little old for the play area, she really enjoyed the Animal Rescue Center. She went through an entire check up with this sea lion to heal it's broken flipper. We decided we wanted to try to make an animal care center at home so she could take care of her stuffed pets.

Next we came to a tropical oasis. There was a lush, humid room full of brilliant colors.

The big alligator was pretty cool to see. It must have been sun bathing. It looked like he was enjoying it from the way his mouth was resting open.

Zoey was fascinated by these fruit bats. It was exciting to see them awake and flying around. Usually bats at the zoo are sleeping during the day. These were busy eating on the several fruit ropes hanging from the ceiling of this darkened corner.

We were getting pretty done by this point, but I had to get one shot of the big sea turtle. There is a shark in the tank too, you can just see it behind the people's heads. It happened to be the same time a lady was presenting about the tank. We listened for a minute, but quickly moved on.

It was about time to leave so we could meet Stephen and Dana in time to catch our train back to Seattle. Before we left, we visited the gift shop. Zoey got me with her newly discovered octopus fingers!

Zoey and I had such an amazing adventure visiting the Vancouver Aquarium. I highly recommend it, just as it was recommended to me, if you ever happen to be in the area, it is well laid out and has lots of fun, interactive exhibits.

We rode a taxi back into downtown. Though we have ridden in ones before, this was the first time I'd ever had to hail a taxi, it was kind of cool. On our way back, Zoey enjoyed seeing the world through her new adventure souvenir, which has binoculars, a compass and a couple more doodads on it, perfect for any expedition.

The view out of the park was breathtaking as well.

Here is a video compilation of our adventures...

This was a fantastic field trip. We also got lots of ideas to make habitats and learn about different animals that we can take back to enhance our homeschooling lessons. We learned a lot and had fun too!

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