PENINSULA ZOOMERS: An ocean view on Family Day

Vancouver Aquarium trip brings back memories for columnist April Lewis.

Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea

Swim so wild and you swim so free

It was Family Day at the Vancouver Aquarium last week, and Raffi’s lyrics came swimming (pun intended) back to me like it was 1986.

The place was packed as families jockeyed for position to view the amazing 50,000 aquatic creatures that connect these frantic families to the natural world.  No need for smartphones, save for snapping photos to remember this incredible sensory experience.

I pressed my nose against the transparent glass barrier, willing the Beluga whales to nudge closer to me. I sang the lyrics of this iconic ditty to my two surrogate grandchildren. I can remember every word.

You may recall in my May 2, 2013 column, Bless this grand biological clock, that I have no grandkids of my own, so it was a treat to be able to share this experience with my boyfriend’s two.

The youngest looked at me in a quizzical way as I continue my dirge.  She is unfamiliar with Raffi; however, she knows all the words to Katy Perry’s <i>Roar.

I got the eye of the tiger… louder, louder than a lion…

Very impressive, I am thinking, but we shall save that one for our trip to the zoo.

Meanwhile, back to the awesome display of diverse aquatic life.

Understanding our connection to this watery world taught my young friends the importance of a sustainable world in which we are interdependent.

I was a child once again participating with the grandkids in so many teachable moments. We learned that sea water freezes at -2 degrees Celsius.  We knew the Arctic ice cap is melting and that this is the Earth’s air-conditioning system.

We discovered the reason why the sharks don’t gobble up all the other fishes in the same tank; it is because the aquarium staff feed them on a regular basis.

I can’t get over the two separate tanks of jellyfish.  They are so beautiful and ethereal in their colourful, nautical dance. It was quite hypnotic and mesmerizing to watch them, hardly imagining that they can be so deadly.

The array of colours that greeted us in every tank is a testament to the talent of Mother Nature.

There was even a display of penguins from Boulders Beach, South Africa, as well as tarantulas, parrots, piranhas and crocodiles from the Amazon and the Tropics right next to the playful sea otters and the dolphins. Closer to home, one could revel in the Treasures of the B.C. Coast.

The children were transfixed by the display of frogs in the Frogs Forever gallery.  The world’s amphibians are under siege with more than 2,000 species threatened to be wiped out within our grandchildrens’ lifetime.  And frogs are the most endangered of all.

Kermit would not be impressed.

The granddaughter was thrilled to see <i>Nemo</i> and all her clownfish relatives.

The grandson was surprised to see a pregnant seahorse who happens to be a male!

The children filled five pages with the names of their favourite marine friends.

Next, we saw an informative display about the 2011 Japanese tsunami which resulted in tonnes of garbage being strewn upon our B.C. shores. My young companions learned they can become part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, where in 2015, nearly 60,000 volunteers removed almost 180,000 kilograms of litter from Canada’s shorelines.

At the end of our utterly amazing day with my newly adopted family, we were sated with the splendor of the sea but famished.

Anyone hungry for fish and chips?

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.