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Ocellated freshwater stingray

It’s always a treat heading over to the Vancouver Aquarium. At any given time of the year, a new exhibit is up, with educational displays, fascinating sea creatures, and the chance to watch them go about their daily business.

Sharks and Rays at VanAqua-10 Sharks and Rays at VanAqua-9

This month unleashes a new exhibit: The Secret World of Sharks and Rays.

Spotted ratfish
[Spotted ratfish]

Last Saturday, I was invited to a blogger preview for a guided tour to see the sharks, rays, skates and ratfishes up close and personal.

Blue-spotted Fantail ray
[Blue-spotted Fantail ray]

Although sharks have a menacing reputation, they face endangerment through overexploitation and pollution. As far as the difference between stingrays and skates, stingrays deliver their babies live while skates lay eggs. Oh yeah, and rays have those famous stingers.

Leopard Whipray
[Leopard Whipray]

Daily live shark feedings are part of the exhibit. And although 14 types of sharks live off our local coast alone, it was sad to learn that between 30 and 100 million of them are harvested worldwide annually.

Blacktip reef shark
[Blacktip reef shark]

At the Pacific Canada Pavilion, life-sized models of thresher, basking, and bluntnose sixgill sharks are on view, to give visitors an impression of just how large and detailed these animals are.

Basking shark model (second largest fish in the world)
[Basking shark: the second largest fish in the world]

There’s also a 4D BBC documentary about the life cycle of salmon. From raging rapids to hungry bears, bald eagles, and sea lions, the salmon too have their own challenges to overcome. This beautifully filmed feature delivers BC’s West coast to the world, and the stunning scenery is worth the price of admission alone.

Illuminated shark egg
[Illuminated shark egg]

As always, the Vancouver Aquarium aims to educate the public about the threats posed to sea life: salmon need to survive in order to allow other animals to do the same. Children can learn how salmon drains are used to protect the salmon’s home.

The 12-minute film is filled with splashy, colourful high definition 3D effects, making for an entertaining and educational story for all to enjoy.

In addition to the regular exhibit hours, there’s a special upcoming Shark Night on March 5, from 6 to 8 pm (currently sold out, but check with the Aquarium as there may be a cancellation list). The evening will bring together four speakers to discuss the mysteries of Greenland and sixgill sharks, two native Canadian species.

Zebra shark
[Zebra shark. Photo credit: Vancouver Aquarium]

While you’re at the Aquarium, don’t miss out on the other exhibits. This was my first time venturing into the Amazon Rainforest, where tropical birds, gorgeous colourful butterflies, a couple of sloths in trees, and other creatures abound.

Amazon Gallery butterfly

Sharks and Rays, a featured exhibit, runs through April 30. Visit the website for schedules, tickets, and daily 4D film showtimes.

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