Thursday, July 19, 2012

Everything's growing!

             We've been happily busy since our grand opening and our animals (not to mention our workers) are comfortably settling into their temporary homes. Our juvenile Wolf eel (Anarrhichthys ocellatus) curiously ventures out of her barnacle den during the late afternoon in search of food, the Decorator crabs (Naxia tumida) happily place sea lettuce and fucus onto their backs in attempts to camouflage themselves against possible predators and our lovely giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) Barbara puts on quite a show chasing red rock crabs around the tank in preparation for a delicious meal. 

Juvenile wolf eel explores her barnacle surroundings
Barbara, the giant Pacific octopus


A few of our crazy workers in their temporary home
(sometimes we think they never leave the aquarium). We're happy to have our high school students, Flynn and Aquila on board with us. From l-r: Dave, Marlie, Laura, Flynn, Acquila

            Things are becoming so comfortable, in fact, that we are already noticing several new non-human additions to our aquarium; not only can you often find crabs clutching onto one another in a pre-mating holdfast (leading several visitors to ask the question, ‘what exactly are they doing?!), but looking through the glass in our tidepool tank reveals several Perch (kelp, shiner, and striped) that are looking a little larger in the middle than normal. Are these gals pigging out on krill? Doubtful. They're pregnant!
A school of shiner perch swimming by
             Perch have a complex mating ritual where the males perform a courtship dance for attractive females. If their moves are seductive enough the female will let the males mate with them. Sound familiar? Five to six months later anywhere from 3 to 40 babies are born.
Within a few weeks the expecting females will look about ready to explode with their little babies. In preparation for the mass birthing, we're planning to relocate our mothers from any potential baby eaters, such as black rockfish, predators capable of turning the miracle of life into a smorgasbord!  Of course, such is the way of life in the ocean and we can't protect all our newborns from the wonders of natural selection. The babies, 1 ¼” miniature version of their parents, are born so well developed that they practically swim out of their mothers. The males are also born reproductively mature with females maturing only a few weeks later. Cool, hey!  

         Just recently we’ve also found some Opalescent squid (Loligo opalescens) eggs which look about ready to hatch. The mating ritual of these fast swimming cephalods is not quite as romantic as that of the perch; instead, the male will aggressively grab the female and deposit his sperm packet (using his hectocotylized third right arm) inside the mantle of the female. The female then lays dozens of large egg capsules shaped like gelatinous cigars, each containing 180-300 eggs! The eggs develop directly and, after about three to five weeks, hatch, but the adults die shortly after spawning. These little squidlets aren’t left entirely unprotected though; the egg capsules have no taste or odor, so they are not perceived by food as predators! We’re looking forward to having a tank full of swimming squids soon.

A cluster of squid eggs
Squid embryo
  Spawning is almost a weekly event in the aquarium with various species releasing mass amounts of sperm and eggs into the surrounding water. Come visit the aquarium for answers about where babies come from and to check out the progress on our animals!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ucluelet Aquarium Grand Opening: June 1st, 2:00 pm.

The Ucluelet Aquarium Society is proud to announce the grand opening of the new Ucluelet Aquarium.

Please join us for this special celebration to thank the community, volunteers and donors. 

Doors open after speeches and 'kelp' cutting. 

Explore the new Giant Tide Pool, interactive children's play area, touch tanks and video microscope stations.

Staff led tours, live demonstrations and dissections are all part of the fun!

Enjoy refreshments, music and crafts for kids. 

Please help us spread the word.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Photo Update from the JCP Crew

There have been many exciting developments with the JCP crew, as the aquarium fir tank stands come together in all their glory with assembly and finishing. As we have been documenting this progress carefully, we thought a photo collection of the details (along with some colour commentary) would be appropriate.

As previously mentioned, we decided to incorporate lap joints and 12" lag bolts into the design for some of the tank stands. These "skookum" stands will be supporting some of the largest aquarium tanks in the finished facility.

Seamus and Jeff carefully router out lap joints for the 6x6 stands. These heavy-duty stands will be supporting the larger acrylic tanks.

A close-up shot of the high-speed router in action!

Once the lap joints were completed, the 6x6 tank stands were ready for assembling and finishing. We used several coats of a thin penetrating epoxy, to ensure that these stands remain strong and beautiful in the damp aquarium environment for many years to come!

An array of beautiful assembled, epoxied, and completed stands built with 6x6 fir

Diana's favourite stand! A prime example of some of the beautiful wood we had the opportunity to work with
(thanks, Maggie Brown!)

With the 6x6 stands completed, our crew was free to tackle the smaller touch tank stands. A different, more kid-friendly
design was crafted for these interactive tanks.

Two lovely flowers arise in the bright dawn, from tall stacks of beautifully crafted touch tank skirts

Getting a close-up look at the critters in the touch tank, as well as our first completed touch tank stand!

Diana & Mia demonstrating the excitement of visiting a touch tank at the new Ucluelet Aquarium

And finally, after all the hard work, a much-needed rest...

The aquarium's founder Phillip does not approve of Seamus taking a time-out on one of the larger 6-legged stands. He does, however, believe that safety comes first!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What you can't see from the outside...

The Great Tidepool, Casey at work,
and the glowing windows out to the harbour

To the right, allow the imagination to fill the broad space by the front windows with rows of touch tanks. With any luck, future visitors may glance up from these tanks to view the rare sight some of the crew were privy to last week. A pod of killer whales swimming through the bay. No photographic proof is available for this claim, but trust us, it happened. (really). The aquarium currently feels as if we were building a whale from the inside out. Beams and rafters enclose the space like a giant ribcage. Electricians lace the neurons of electrical wire through and around the framework; the plumbing spreads into the future sites of displays, and into the belly of the building, where rows of filters and pumps will pulse cold life into glass cases.

The basement: a lone chair and two rows of sand-filters

From the back of the building, the Great Tide Pool to the left, the view will one day be an art piece displaying the names of our sponsors. The upstairs will be the aquarium's very first on-site office. Ask staff members what this means to them. Be prepared for wide grins and unlimited excitement.

The view towards the upstairs mezzanine (future office) and front desk.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Aquarium Construction Update (January 5th)

The roof is on, sides are almost complete, and the structure is beginning to take shape