Behind the glass
December 30, 1996
City Guides and Maps: Vancouver
1.9M QuickTime movie
(CNN) -- Lurking in the depths of the Northern Pacific are some of the world's
most colorful creatures. Like jewels beneath the water's surface, the silver
surf perch, giant sea anemones, and fierce-looking wolf eels are often only
visually accessible first-hand with expensive dive gear.
However, a ticket, and perhaps a bit of courage, are all that's needed to come
face to face with these wonders of the deep at the Vancouver Aquarium. More than
8,000 different kinds of creatures thrive in Canada's largest aquarium.
The Vancouver Aquarium's Marisa Nichini calls the animals "the light switch -- they're the thing that turns people on."
"It can be as simple as seeing a sea otter here that's a survivor of the Exxon
Valdez oil spill and realizing what oil, what effect oil has in their lives and
also in the lives of the other animals that are found in the ocean and in the
earth," Nichini said.
One of the Vancouver Aquarium's youngest residents is perhaps its most popular.
The first beluga whale to be conceived and born in a Canadian aquarium is kept
under the watchful eye of her proud mother Aurora.
But the belugas are more than just a tourist attraction. They're also important
for marine research. "We know very little about what happens to Belugas in the
wild, and it's only through aquariums like this that we actually find out that
information," said Clint Wright, the curator of marine mammals.
The aquarium's micro-climates range from the Amazon to the Arctic. Visitors
can come within inches of the feared piranha or gaze at a globular tide of
The "Free Willy" movies have stirred interest in killer whales. Visitors can
watch orcas display their gymnastics skills several times a day. And because
the whales are not on a set schedule, sometimes the shows are delayed when the orcas' pool-side romancing takes precedence over performing.
Every year, the whales, fish and plant life at the Vancouver Aquarium welcome
more than 800,000 fascinated faces of all ages from all over the world. Which
leads one to wonder: just which side of the glass is really on display?