The Vancouver Aquarium is iconic. People travel from far and wide to see the shows and meet the animals. Back in the day, the Aquarium had Seaworld like shows that involved orcas, dolphins, seals, belugas and otters. As a child, I remember watching these shows and later hoping that I’d get chosen to help the keepers groom and feed the animals.
I also remember 1991, when swimmer Keltie Byrne was killed by orcas in a tank in Victoria, which triggered the beginning of a more responsible attitude towards orcas and sea creatures in captivity. Since then, the Vancouver Aquarium has slowly phased out its shows and now uses only animal ambassadors to teach people about conservation and animal responsibility. The two predominant species used in shows at the aquarium are dolphins and beluga whales.
The dolphins in the shows we saw were Hana and Helen who were rescued after being tangled in fishing nets in Japan. Neither can be released back into the wild because of their injuries. The beluga whales in the photos are Aurora, Qila, and Kavna. This summer we were one of the last people to see Kavna perform. Days after visiting the aquarium, she died at the very old age of 46. She was the inspiration for the Raffi song, Baby Beluga. After she passed away, Raffi posted a very lovely picture of the two of them together.
The number of big animals and elaborate shows may have diminished in size, but what makes the Aquarium really special is the conservation and rescue work that the Conservation Foundation does. This work is very present everywhere you wander. I loved reading the many stores of rescue and rehabilitation.
The Aquarium also is responsible for the Ocean Wise program that I’ve referred to in many posts. The goal of the program is to help restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers make ocean-friendly buying decisions.