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Ucluelet Aquarium Open

The Ucluelet Aquarium opened in March this year just in time for the Whale Festival. My children were as excited as ever to visit the hands on aquarium and my wife and I are equally excited!

The earlier season has brought some new and different animals. Of course they still have some of the crowd favourites: a giant Pacific octopus (whose crab hunting never fails to impress), sea urchins, many anemones, the touch tank and the predatory sunflower stars. Crabs continue to be a big deal at the aquarium. In addition to the usual suspects (Dungeness, rock, kelp & decorator crabs), they have a particularly massive Puget Sound king crab. Its camouflage is so complete that most guests don’t even notice it is pointed out!” A local commercial fishermen brought the first-ever brown box crab. The big breathing holes on its front claws are truly impressive. The trawlers also brought a thread fin sculpin from deep. This is a rarely-seen sculpin.

Shortly after opening the committed young local volunteers (a.k.a. “The Crab Kids”) showed up. Their efforts have been most appreciated as they patiently wait for jellies to drift by the dock. They keep the aquarium well-stocked with shore crabs and, this spring, caught a red octopus in a trap off the Whiskey Dock! This is the much smaller cousin of the giant Pacific octopus.

Other new animals this year include Ostrich plume hydroids and the tube-dwelling or burrowing anemone which pokes its tentacles out from among the sand dollars. Richard from Thornton Creek Hatchery have supplied three species of baby salmon this year (chum, chinook & coho).
One of the highlights so far this year has been watching the herring eggs develop under the microscope (2 cells, 4 cells, 8 cells etc.) until they finally hatched. The babies inside their eggs were invisible except for their eyes. Dave, the curator, has set up a rather lurid horse clam display that might not be suitable for all audiences….

One of the most interesting displays is one that is not living… yet. Architectural drawings of the planned new aquarium building are on display and are very impressive. To view these plans click here. The aquarium is grateful to the local businesses who have signed up to sponsor tanks for the 2010 season.

On your trip to the Pacific Rim Park be sure to visit the Ucluelet Aquarium and discover what’s in the ocean!

Click here for more information.

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