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2013 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown-23

The Vancouver Aquarium is currently showcasing the bioluminescence of the underwater world with “Luminescence – A Celebration of Aquatic Life“, on now through January 22. The Vancouver Aquarium is a wonderful place to spend a rainy day and Vancouverites during this time of the year can relate to the lack of sunshine these sea creatures experience.

Luminescence has been part of Vancouver Aquarium’s programming for several years, however there are a few new interactive displays this year. Look for the dark blue signs that explain the included features, some of which are lit with special lighting to highlight the inhabitant’s special talents.

An exception to the signage is the angler fish display. The singular light of this predator’s dangling growth from its forehead lures people to touch the screen, only to be startled by its open mouth, full of scary teeth. Everyone I saw at the exhibit jumped as they became the victim of this creature’s bioluminescent ability. 

Vancouver Aquarium Luminescence/Japanese Sea Nettle

Another new display highlights different sea animals that live at various depths of the ocean, comparing those depths to world-renowned heights. The depths are emphasized by the scrolling nature of the display, which also serves as a legend, to find the different animals in the displays throughout the aquarium. 

Take a break from the displays to watch the fun 4D short movie, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas. Although it doesn’t have much to do with aquatic life, it’s very cute and suitable for all ages. Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas will run daily until January 8.

If you’re planning on taking young ones, plan your visit around a visit with Scuba Claus, appearing at 11:30 am on weekends (daily from December 21 to 24). Scuba Claus has been out for a test drive of his sleigh and while flying over the aquarium, dropped some sleigh bells through the building’s skylight. The bells have accidentally landed in the Aquarium’s gigantic fish tank, home to the aquatic life of The Georgia Strait.

Scuba Clause
[Scuba Claus photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium]

Scuba Claus must dive into the tank to find the bells while checking with different sea animals to see whether they may have spotted them. Scuba Claus is miked and the banter between the jolly guy and the aquarium host is both fun and engaging. The visit ends with Scuba Claus giving “high-fives” at the tank glass wall and posing for pictures. Judging from the looks on the little ones’ faces, Scuba Claus is a big hit. 

Jelly Swarm, an interactive light installation

Upstairs in the main rotunda is a beautiful art installation, Jelly Swarm, created by Tangible Intervention, a group that fosters design and technology to create interactive experiences.

Jelly Swarm, an interactive light installation

The collaborative work with origami artist Joseph Wu was inspired by the popular and photogenic jellyfish with an interactive component enabling visitors to create a dance of colour across the swarm. 

Joseph Wu demonstrating an origami jellyfish
[Joseph Wu demonstrating an origami jellyfish]

No visit to the Vancouver Aquarium would be complete without the proverbial exit through the gift shop. The Vancouver Aquarium gift shop has something for everyone on your shopping list, from stuffed animals, educational toys, t-shirts, and jewellery to stunning home decor items. This holiday season, the gift shop sells a collection of discounted plush animals with a percentage of proceeds donated to Toy Mountain in support of the Salvation Army, to benefit needy children. 

Penguin for Toy Mountain Project
[Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium]

The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, non-profit association. Proceeds from events and ticket sales help fund education, research, and conservation programs. Visit the website for detailed information.

Unless otherwise stated, all photos by Ariane Colenbrander.

About Our Contributor MJ Ankenman

MJ Ankenman

MJ moved to Vancouver in 2005 and has been keeping busy ever since, enjoying all that the West coast has to offer, sharing discoveries through her writing and photography. MJ’s interests include yoga, biking, hiking, and enjoying BC wine. Follow MJ on Twitter @urbanista.

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