The Ucluelet Aquarium is setting trends across the country when it comes to how and what it keeps in its tanks for visitors to enjoy. The non-profit organization is one of three aquariums in Canada to practice catch and release, which means that every season, aquarium staff collect species from the waters of Barclay and Clayquot Sounds and bring them back to their facility. Every season is different, and while the species they can properly care for is limited, there is no shortage of creatures to watch, learn about and in many cases, touch.
Marine World Geeks and Proud Of It
The Curator, Laura Griffith-Cochrane is a self-described geek whose knowledge about the marine environment and the creatures in it is vast, as is the case with the rest of the aquarium staff. They love what they do and they love sharing it.
“We try to get all of our cleaning and maintenance out of the way in the morning,” Laura says. “So that when people come in, they get to talk to a person.” Through that interaction with staff, the mysteries of the ocean are revealed and visitors leave with an inspired understanding of the marine world.
Bowie the Giant Pacific Octopus
A highlight for many is Bowie, a Giant Pacific Octopus who has doubled in size since being brought to the aquarium. Bowie’s gender is unknown because the tell-tale tentacle is missing. Bowie is awaiting veterinary certification and will soon be release back into the wild. There is usually an octopus at the aquarium and watching them eat is certainly something to experience. A live crab is dropped into the tank, the octopus bolts at it with surprising speed, wraps its eight arms around it and pulls it back into the den for feeding.
Curious Rat Fish
The focal point of the aquarium is a large tank that replicates a real ocean current, and in it are rock fish and what seem to be very curious and friendly rat fish that swim right up to take a look at you.
The Ucluelet Aquarium, www.uclueletaquarium.org, is open seasonally from mi-March through December and hosts visitors from all over the world.
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