Taking a flight isn’t normally considered a relaxing activity — however, if you’re one of the 20 million people who fly out of Canada’s second busiest airport every year, the Vancouver Aquarium will help you bring your heart rate down.
Located in the middle of the international departures terminal at the YVR airport, the Vancouver Aquarium has an 114,000 L exhibit with plants and animals, giving airport goers a glimpse at the incredible diversity below the surface of B.C. coastal waters. With close to 10,000 animals, this window “under-the-sea” is a popular spot for gazing, selfie taking, and quiet reflection.
“What is the intrepid traveller looking at?” you might ask. Naturally, it’s hard to know sometimes without someone there to tell you the story. In order to inform travellers of the many wonders and creatures found in B.C. waters, Vancouver Aquarium interpreters have been present at YVR to share those stories every Wednesday this summer. If you happen to be flying out that day of the week and have time to spare before you take off, stop by to talk to Keely or Alex who usually bring some unique videos, colouring activities, or even animals you can touch and discover. It’s a guaranteed fun learning experience that will make the time fly by.
Keely and Alex will be at YVR every Wednesday for the remainder of the summer along with the Aquarium divers who feed the animals during their dive in the exhibit. If fall rolls around and you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the interpreters, don’t fret — you can still catch the scuba divers feeding the fish in the exhibit late Wednesday mornings year-round.
The animals receive surface feeds on a regular basis, but dive feeds help ensure that every species and every individual in the exhibit gets their fair share of food.
Before the divers hop in the water to do the feed they help the biologists prepare the food. They usually start with prepping some fish, such as herring and capelin (to get a bit of an idea of what food prep is like for the Vancouver Aquarium, check this out). The fish we use to feed the larger animals in the exhibit is sustainably caught, has added vitamins and is kept frozen. In addition, we prepare some clams, krill (think tiny shrimp), and even smaller types of food for the filter-feeding animals on display.
The divers start by hand feeding the fish, including wolf eels, rockfish, perch, lingcod, and greenlings. They then move on to feed the sea stars, sea anemones, snail, clams, and scallops. Once the feed is over, it’s time to clean. You can watch the divers clean the exhibit using brushes and what appears to be a giant vacuum tube (which is pretty much exactly what it is). The giant vacuum tube helps suck up the floating bits of algae that the brushing and scrubbing cleans off the rocks. They might also make a few adjustments to the rock and kelp arrangements, clean the front of the exhibit viewing window, and then head back up to the surface, just in time for lunch.
The exhibit is there all year to help you relax before a flight and discover the wonderful diversity in our local waters. Enjoy and happy travels.