Friday, March 26, 2010

Growing the Garden

Thanks to the support from the BC Ministry of Housing and Social Services, our JCP crew continues to make great progress growing our “Intertidal Garden”.

[Wall seen on left as tide recedes. UA Photo]

After a successful concrete pour, our upper tidepool is almost complete, holding the receding tide waters and already showing signs of life! There have been sign of human life too as our new tidepool has already attracted visitors on its first day.

[Wall seen at top with sea stars! UA Photo]

Work will continue as the crew removes sediment and makes plans, weather and tides permitting, to construct another pool lower in the intertidal zone.

[Pools seen at bottom left with aquarium in backgroud! UA Photo]

Check back here for news as the spring unfolds!

From the deep

Far at the back of the Ucluelet Aquarium is a habitat that mirrors a place deep on the ocean floor. The first inhabitant you may notice has a fiery red coloration and eyes so big that the fish seems a clueless wonder. Due to its large dark eyes, the longspine thornyhead has been given the unfortunate nickname of the “idiot fish”. Ouch!

This groundfish, who lives 1-2 kilometres under the surface of the ocean off the coast of Vancouver Island, exists in a habitat of low oxygen, sunlight & food. As if that isn’t enough to adapt to! These ‘idiots’ also live in an area with an extraordinary level of water pressure. Not a lot is known about this wonderful creature yet it is still being fished for consumption in global markets.

What a great opportunity to come down and stare deep into those huge alluring eyes that will tell you stories about the world before we came along. You don’t really believe these fish are idiots, do you?

Who makes friends with an idiot? Tanner crabs and threadfin sculpins aren’t afraid to admit it.

Thanks to the crew of the Ocean Rebel, we have these guys to show off too. There may even be sablefish (a.k.a. ‘black cod’) swimming around. These are species that our normal collecting techniques (beach seining and diving) never allow us to see, so we are very excited.

We hope you will share our excitement and come down to the Aquarium for a look.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And We're Off... To a Great Start!

We've been busy, busy, busy and extremely excited about the new season which started March 6th. We are now open daily from 11am-5pm. Our opening day coincided with the opening day celebrations of the Pacific Rim Whale Festival. We have been getting the aquarium ready for another year of fun: Painting, plumbing, cleaning and labeling are all part of our preparations. What we needed next were critters! Some of our collection techniques include well orchestrated beach seines and the tried, tested and true method of bicycle-wheel-net fishing off of the dock. Materials used are high tech garbage pails, good ole scoop nets, and last but definitely not least our friendly local divers Sporty, Marcel and free diver, have all done tremendous jobs and we Thank You!

This last month, we took a short break from collecting and headed out into the communities. We were invited to attend marine career fairs in Ahousaht and at the Ucluelet Secondary School. It was great to see the excitement on everyone’s face as they got to check out our tank of sea creatures and ask questions about what it's like to work at the Ucluelet Aquarium.

For the past two weeks, we’ve been setting up friendly and suitable new homes for the temporary inhabitants at the aquarium to enjoy as they serve as the ambassadors of their species, teaching the public about lifestyles that protect the environment and ways to help conserve our oceans, locally and internationally. A big challenge for the JCP crew is learning husbandry techniques, which is a very important part of aquarium species placement. If done incorrectly, one creature in the tank could eat the other (oh my!). Just because they are in an aquarium doesn’t mean that nature still wont take its course!

Individual or family season’s passes are available so you can keep coming back for more education and fun anytime.

Thanks to all for your support and love. We can't wait to see you on the promenade this year.