Magnificent Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park ~ Killer Whales Now a Thing of the Past
Canada's Vancouver Aquarium
One of the premier attractions in Stanley Park and in Vancouver, British Columbia for that matter is the magnificent Vancouver Aquarium.
It was the very first public aquarium in Canada and is also the largest. It also happens to be one of the 5 largest aquariums in all of North America.
It's main focus is on conservation and research. There are over 166 aquatic displays.
These otters were filmed at the Vancouver Aquarium
Among other things one can view some of the following:
- Angel fishes
- Seahorses and more in the H.R. MacMillan Tropical Gallery.
Vancouver Aquarium - worlds largest freshwater fish
In the Sandwell North Pacific Gallery one can see beautiful and luminous jellyfish, anemones, octopus and more.
If your desire is to see fresh water fish like salmon, steelhead and arctic grayling, this can be done by visiting the Rufe Gibbs Hall.
The Max Bell Marine Mammal Centre offers views of the larger animals like whales, seals, sea lions and the like.
My mother, niece and I were staying at the Westin Bayshore Hotel which was so conveniently located for us. We were within walking distance of Stanley Park and availed ourselves of exploring it several times during our 5 day vacation in Vancouver.
This particular day we decided to visit the renowned Vancouver Aquarium located in Stanley Park.
Do you like visiting aquariums?
A huge Orca statue greets one at the entrance to the aquarium. It is titled Chief of the Undersea World and Bill Reid gets the credit for its artistry.
The orca (killer whale) show was amazing. The trainers / handlers had these huge black and white orcas leaping out of the water and doing tricks on command.
The same could be said regarding the beluga whales who are white in color with those recognizable almost smiling faces. They performed in unison and we were warned that people in the audience just might get splashed.
As the orcas would whip their tails against the water delivering a huge spray of water into the crowd, peals of laughter could be heard. My main concern was keeping my camera dry.
The Vancouver Aquarium was the first to capture and put orcas on display.
Orca (killer) whales at Vancouver AquariumClick thumbnail to view full-size
Much as we enjoyed the show I would rather think of these magnificent marine animals having the freedom of the ocean and their pods with which to travel and interact.
Beluga whales at Vancouver aquarium
In 1996 it was decided that never again will the Vancouver Aquarium be responsible for capturing wild whales, dolphins or other cetaceans.
Their prime focus, as mentioned above is conservation and research. They do help abandoned animals or sick ones and try and nurse them back to health in order that they may be released into the wild.
I am very happy to hear about this direction that they are taking.
Beluga whales performance at Vancouver AquariumClick thumbnail to view full-size
After the beluga whale performance, chunks of ice were thrown into their pool. Apparently they love playing with the ice before it melts.
The beluga whales would push the chunks of ice ahead of them and do all sorts of gymnastic moves while the ice was still intact.
Their smooth white faces which always seem to have a perpetual smile on them appeared to really enjoy this special treat and it was fun watching their antics with the ice. This was not a trick but just appeared to be joyful play on their part.
The crowd of people watching the belugas playing also wore many smiles upon their faces.
After getting to spend some time at the magnificent Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park, I would heartily recommend your visiting there if your travel plans take you to that area.
There is much more to see and enjoy in beautiful Stanley Park, but this attraction of the Vancouver Aquarium is one that gets a big "thumbs up" from our experience.
Update Regarding the Whales
I recently received this comment from a Charles Barnes who lives in Vancouver. Sharing it in his own words, here it is:
So glad you enjoyed your time at the Vancouver Aquarium. Being a Vancouverite, and a father of 6 children, the Aquarium has been a staple for entertainment/education for our family for many years.
Your visit was clearly many years ago now as the aquarium has not kept orcas in captivity since 2001 and sadly, I regret to inform you that the aquarium's last Beluga whale, Aurora, has past away as of Friday night. Now, the aquarium owns other belugas who are on loan to other facilities around North America. Whether or not one or more of these animals will return to Vancouver is unknown at this time but you may want to update this page for your visitors. The Vancouver Aquarium is still very much a worthwhile place to visit and so much to offer beyond the whales. I highly recommend reserving a full day for the experience as there is a lot to take in and the education through hands on experience is second to none. If your visitors still wish to see whales, I recommend a whale watching tour to see these magnificent animals in their natural habitat. All the best to you. Charles"
Would you rather see whales swimming freely in the ocean instead of captured and put on display in aquariums?
I am happy to hear that those beautiful orca whales are no longer in captivity. A whale watching tour is the best way to see them while they swim freely with their own kind.
The Vancouver aquarium is definitely a great place to spend some time even without the whales. I would still highly recommend it.
Thanks again Charles for the update!
Vancouver Aquarium - Hyacinthine Macaw and Marmoset
You can see more of Stanley Park here:
- Visiting Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada
Surrounded by water, Stanley Park is a playground & green space in Vancouver, BC offering much in the way of enjoyment to locals & visitors alike. My photos & other videos show some of this glorious landscape.
© 2009 Peggy Woods