Stanley Park Aquarium: The Eco-Friendly Fish Resort
Ever since I was a young I have had a strong fascination with ocean life. When people asked me what I would be when I got older, I always told them I wanted to be a Marine Biologist. Along the way I had many people explain to me that marine biology was an extremely hard job to secure with a lot of schooling in between, and that I should try for something that makes a bit more money. So now I’m a travel writer. Oops…
While I no longer pine to be out on the open seas, brandishing a worn red beanie and searching for the ever-elusive jaguar shark, I still experience this child-like sense of wonder when it comes to learning about the ocean. But sadly, because I am especially susceptible to motion sickness, the best way for me to observe the dark, deep, and mysterious ocean is by visiting aquariums.
During our recent trip to Vancouver, Elise and I were told that there was no way we could miss out on the Stanley Park Aquarium. Getting anywhere in Vancouver was an adventure for us due to our lack of transportation, but getting to the Stanley Park Aquarium was even more of an challenge. The Aquarium lies in the heart of one of the largest parks in the world so we could barely tell left from right, let alone know specific directions to a small building down a large grassy hill. We decided to rent two mountain bikes and ride alongside the seawall until we arrived (which involved a lot of “Is this it?” “I don’t know, is it?”). After another debacle involving broken bike locks and large, gravely roads, we finally made our way to the entrance.
"This particular exhibit had a great message too. It lamented about the destruction of frog habitats around the world due to deforestation and other human interaction. Will frogs be around forever? Perhaps not."
Once we were inside, we were met with a cavalcade of options. There were several entrances to different rooms that looked like they carried on forever. I’ve noticed that most aquariums have a slight resemblance to hedge mazes, only you’re usually being chased by sticky kids with french fries rather than Jack Torrance. These narrow straights were chalked full of humongous tanks containing ocean life from all around the world! Some outdoor tanks showcased dolphins and seals, and some specialty exhibits such as the “Frogs Forever?” were simply hopping with life (literally!). Needless to say, we chose to view “Frogs Forever?” first. The exhibit had frogs of all sizes that ranged from extremely interesting to just plain weird. This particular exhibit had a great message too. It lamented about the destruction of frog habitats around the world due to deforestation and other human interaction. Will frogs be around forever? Perhaps not.
One of the main selling points of the Stanley Park Aquarium for us was their environmental consciousness. No animals were captured irresponsibly or forced into captivity—in fact, the animals that reside inside are only taken if found unable to survive to the wild. This aquarium is more of a rescue mission than a money maker, and I think that is awesome. Plus, in Canada there are so many efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. Every exhibit in the Aquarium offered a message about recycling, avoiding overuse of plastics, and helping out where you can. Anywhere that has a separate trash bin for not only recyclables but compostable materials is a-OK in our book.
From a customer's perspective, Stanley Park Aquarium is also great because it is really easy to navigate around. We spent the rest of our day walking aimlessly and never hit a point where we didn’t know where to go next! We saw everything from gorgeous jellyfish to adorable penguins.
After seemingly hours of wandering, we found ourselves in a long line for the Great Escapes: Life in 4D experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but whatever it was they delivered! We found ourselves in the shoes of a small shrew, falling down a hill with a pebble frog, all in slow motion with gorgeous close-ups and vibrant colors. 4D is not for the faint of heart though. Elise and I were jumping out of our seats left and right, trying to escape lunging snakes on the screen paired with actual ropes hitting out feet on the ground—and don’t even ask about when we “dodged” a splashing puddle, only to have real water sprayed on our faces. It’s just something you have to experience for yourself! (But be wary—when the scorpion pops up on the screen, you might be in for a dangerously painful surprise…)
Aquariums may be geared towards children, but honestly, Elise and I had such a blast exploring the Stanley Park Aquarium with wonder and curiosity. It’s something you really can’t miss if you stop in Vancouver for any period of time. There is nothing that can compare to relaxing outside and listening to the beautiful gulps and snarls of sea lions as they soak and play together under the sun. And do I even have to mention how fun it is to poke your head through a glass dome and look a small bumpy toad right in the eye? I don’t think I do. If you want to reach into your past and pull on some heart strings, I thoroughly recommend the Stanley Park Aquarium.
Disclaimer: One thing I would recommend is to bring snacks. We all know how expensive Aquarium food is, and it is no different here.
Thank you so much for reading our article! We would love if you let us know what your favorite Aquarium is in the comments below!