At Ocean Wise, our mission is to inspire the global community to become Ocean Wise by increasing its understanding, wonder and appreciation for our oceans. Our Children & Youth Programs are immersive ocean education experiences that foster love for our oceans through fun and interactive activities, engaging over 9,000 children, youth and families in marine science annually.
Through our programs, we inspire the next generation of leaders to develop concern for the environment by experiencing awe and wonder as a child.
AquaCamps: offer your children a fun, educational experience never to be forgotten. Our camps are filled with hands-on activities, animal observations, crafts and time to run around outside to fully engage your children in an environment that encourages active learning. Children will learn about local and exotic animals, life cycles, food webs, adaptations, ecosystems and sustainability. Register online!
Junior Biologist Club: explore the animals, science, and research that happen behind the scenes at the Vancouver Aquarium and in ocean science research. Get ready to dive into a series of adventures to gain a better understanding of our aquatic planet, the technological innovation in Aquarium research and what we need to do to better protect our oceans. Register today!
For more information, please email [email protected] or call Hailey at 604-359-3493 or 236-886-4191.
Have a Splash of a Birthday: You’ll touch marine invertebrates like squishy sea cucumbers, sticky anemones and prickly sea urchins in our Wet Lab before heading behind the scenes for a visit through our Jellyfish hallway. As an added bonus, the birthday child will be named an Honorary Aquarist and will get to feed our fish in the two-story Strait of Georgia Pacific Canada Pavilion, one of the Aquarium's largest exhibits.
Spend an Incredible Night in the Aquarium: After the Aquarium has closed its doors for the night, we invite you to join us for an exciting night of exploration. You’ll have the chance to explore the Aquarium through a variety of special activities and head into our behind-the-scenes marine lab, where you can touch local invertebrates including live sea stars, sea urchins, anemones and more. Bed down in front of one of the Aquarium's spectacular marine galleries, and receive a continental breakfast when you wake up.
For more information, please email [email protected] or call 604-659-3504.
Join us as we celebrate one of the cutest animals in BC! The sea otter!
Sea otters are mammals found naturally along the BC coast, usually inhabiting kelp forest regions. Not only are they the cutest animals out there, but they are so important to maintaining the expansive biodiversity in BC!
Have you seen the otters here at the aquarium? If you have, you’ve definitely seen a few signature otter behaviours. One is the face rub. These grooming behaviours are not only the most adorable activity, but they’re vital to otters. While other marine mammals like seals rely on blubber, otters only have fur. They have the most dense fur actually! Sea otters have incredibly dense coats, with more than 100,000 hairs per square centimeter! For reference, most humans have about 100,000 on their whole heads. By scrubbing their fur, they are cleaning it and maintaining insulation. There are air bubbles trapped in the fur that keep the otters warm in cold BC waters.
Fun fact. Baby sea otters have more air trapped in their fur relative to older otters. Meaning babies are much more buoyant, making diving harder. Like how this baby demonstrates!
You may also have seen sea otters in person or on videos playing with toys. Not only are sea otters naturally curious, but the toys are given as enrichment. Since otters eat shellfish, they need ways to crack those hard outer shells. To do this, they will actually use tools! They use rocks and hard objects to smash and break open the shelled animals. Otters also have favourite rocks, and will keep them in their armpit pockets! Watch this otter hide her favourite toy from a curious observer.
Sea otters are famous for another behaviour - they hold hands with each other! This behaviour is not only the cutest thing out there, but it’s another important behaviour for otters. Holding hands is called rafting. Out in the ocean, when otters are all trying to sleep or rest, they don’t want to get swept away by the ocean waves. So they all hold hands and raft together. It could just be two otters, but it could be many of them, forming mega-rafts!
Besides holding hands, otter mums have another way to keep their babies in one place. When mum goes to find food, she will use kelp as a little seat belt to hold her baby! Otter mums are excellent parents. They devote tons of energy into the care of their pups. From grooming to snuggles, a lot of care goes into the care for the pup.
However, anything can happen in nature. This may result in a sea otter pup being orphaned. While sad, this is where rescuers from all around North America will step in to help. Our own Marine Mammal Rescue team has gone all around to help rescue and rehabilitate orphaned sea otter pups. You may recognize Hardy or Rialto. They both were rescued as orphaned pups, but have now grown up well thanks to the loving care from MMR. Now, we have a new addition to our otter family, Tazlina! Taz was found abandoned at just one day old. She received 24 care from the best animal care staff from the Alaska SeaLife Centre and Ocean Wise’s marine mammal team. Find out more about her rescue and care here!
Tazlina is already capturing our hearts with her cuteness and her story. Come visit Taz with the whole family during sea otter awareness week!