Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vancouver Aquarium

A slight deviation from the usual fare, but I'll try to get more comics up soon.

On the second week of July, I went to the Vancouver Aquarium. Here are some photos I took there. Ironically, I couldn't get many good photographs of fish; they tended to move around too much.

My favorite part of this aquarium is probably the Amazon Gallery. To get there you have to go through the Tropic Gallery first, which has many tropical fish from both the sea and freshwater, but I didn't take any pictures. It's quite hot and humid in the Amazon Gallery to emulate the tropics, but you can see some pretty neat animals and exhibits. There are Amazonian fish, of course, and a fruit bat exhibit. The main portion of the gallery is an aviary-type area with a wooden walkway. There are many types of animals in this area and you can have lots of fun trying to find them all. My record was pretty poor this time, but I've gotten close in the past. There are many types of butterflies, river turtles, red-footed tortoises, scarlet ibises, three species of parrots, three species of tanagers, whistling ducks, two-toed sloths, and plumed basilisks, the last of which are probably the hardest to look for. Out of all the times I've been to the Vancouver Aquarium, I've only seen a basilisk twice. I didn't get to see any sloths or ducks or blue-gray tanagers this time, either. In fact, nearly all the animals I saw this time were those that you were bound to see either way and didn't take much searching. Disappointing, I guess, but it's part of the fun.

Other animals from the gallery I really wanted to see but didn't were an emperor tamarin and a pygmy marmoset. The two tiny monkeys are kept in a exhibit separated by netting from the aviary area, and it's really neat to watch their dynamic. Once I saw the two species grooming each other. Interspecies interactions are cool, I guess.

Here's a red-footed tortoise.

Even though this post isn't a comic, there'd better be some maniraptors, right? These hyacinth macaws are very big and striking. However, the one thing I don't like about them is their calls, which are very loud and raucous and very hard on the ears.

A nice picture I got of a scarlet ibis feeding from a feeding basket

Some pictures of a river turtle.

Other than big fish tanks and the aviary area, the gallery also has many terrariums for various reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods. This is an emerald tree boa.

A matamata turtle. It's made of 100% turtle power.

Some Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Not from the Amazon.

A spectacled caiman.

Another part of the aquarium I really like is on their lower floor. (When you enter the aquarium, you're on their upper floor.) There's a huge, impressive-looking tank full of West Coast sea life down there (which you can view from above on the upper floor), but I'm talking about the amphibian exhibits. And it was about at this point where my photography skills became slightly better.

This is a Hong Kong warty newt.

The aquarium also houses caecilians. Which is awesome, to say the least. There's a caecilian among this water weed. Somewhere.

A green tree frog. (No, duh. It's really called that.)

A poison-dart frog. Or dart-poison frog. Or arrow-poison frog. (A frog that by any other name would still be just as lethal.)

Um, these are reed frogs. I think.

Some axolotls. They're cute.

An ornate horned frog, lying in ambush for prey.

Some tree frogs whose name escapes me.

Look at that! It's a golden toad exhibit!

There doesn't appear to be anything inside it. And that's because there isn't. It's "unavailable due to extinction".

A coelacanth. They must have gotten a new one after Traumador the Tyrannosaur rescued the one they had before.

From the lower floor of the aquarium you can reach the underwater viewing area of the dolphin pool. Walk a little further and you're outdoors. This is where most of the marine mammal pools are, but they all have underwater viewing, too. Only the dolphin pool's is actually connected to the main building, however.

This is a seagull I saw near the pools. They hang around here quite a lot, probably to get a share of the food. (As it happens, visitors generally feed here, too.)

A Pacific white-sided dolphin.

A harbor porpoise. The only captive one on the West Coast of North America, I've read, but I may be mistaken. These porpoises sometimes get murdered by bottlenose dolphins in the wild. Either the dolphins are having fun killing stuff or doing practice for murdering baby dolphins. Or both. Really ruins their image, doesn't it?

A sea otter. This is the aquarium that spawned the Youtube video of two sea otters holding hands. One of the otters in the video is dead now, I've heard.

In the belugas' underwater viewing area, there are a few tanks with other Arctic sea life. These are Arctic char. Although I couldn't get good photos of most fish, this one turned out kind of cool. Sadly, I didn't get any beluga pictures.

OMG it's a narwhal! This model makes it quite clear that the narwhal's tusk is a single erupted tooth, so it's off to one side. Sometimes two teeth erupt, resulting in two tusks.

Back inside the main building, I kind of breezed through the BC Coast Gallery.

This is a crime scene! A pile of clams have been murdered. It's the work of a sun star. (You can just barely see part of a sun star on the upper right corner.)

Some hagfish. Slimy critters that tie themselves in knots and burrow into dead bodies. They even defend themselves with slime by suffocating their attackers in it. And then they get rid of the excess slime by slipping themselves through one of their own knots.

I didn't dislike the BC Gallery, but what I was really interested in was the part at its end. I don't know the name of this area, but it's a place with many informative, interactive exhibits. You can listen to the static generated by elephantnose fish, view flashlight fish in a dark tank (and watch what happens when you turn on the lights), observe how barnacles cope with swift currents, look at the world through a four-eyed fish's view, rewind and fast forward a live cam of a tank of sea stars to see how they move, and learn how scientists study the ocean. There is a series of jellyfish exhibits at the front, too, which aren't interactive but very nice to look at nonetheless.

A fried egg jellyfish. Is it edible?

I don't know if the fried egg jelly is edible, but the exhibit sign for these blue jellyfish (they're not all blue, however) say these are. They're very active and kind of cute in a jellyfish way. I've actually eaten jellyfish before, though I don't know if it was one of these.

Subadult moon jellyfish. (They had the juveniles and eggs on display, too, but it's hard to get good photos of them.)

And here are the fully grown ones.

An immature lion's mane jellyfish.

A tentacled snake. Nearby was a video you could play that showed how these snakes and other aquatic predators catch their prey.

A dome filled with mosquitoes. An interesting idea for an exhibit, but I wonder what's the white liquid they fill it with. They played sounds of mosquitos buzzing inside the dome, so it was kind of irritating.

The sanddab exhibit was split into two halves with different-colored substrate. When a sanddab settled in one half, it would change color to match it.

Do u leik mudkipz? I've always thought that mudkip was an aquatic salamander like an axolotl or mudpuppy with fish traits, but it appears it's actually a mudskipper with salamander traits. Go fig.

Just a roadkilled mole I found on the parking lot...