Stanley Park and Vancouver Aquarium – a great mix

Today we went to Stanley Park, because Tom wanted to see the totem poles there, and we actually squeezed some geocaching in so that we all had more fun on the way there.

Once there, we were surprised that only a few people were strolling around the totem poles which gave us the rare opportunity (at least during summer time) to get some pictures without having tons of people in them.
From there we also had a great look at Lions Gate Bridge and Brockton Point.

After having had some lunch, our boys discovered a tree they could climb on, and on which they could put some of their new-found energy to use.

In order to avoid the sun when walking along the seawall, we choose a trail we had never walked before, that let us through the forest of Stanley Park. Really nice!
Well, we ended up near the Aquarium and decided to go into it to have some more fun.

We came on time for the penguin walk where one of the penguins seemed to have a look into the beluga habitat. Maybe one of the beluga whales there was watching her, too?

Anyway, we spent some time with Jack, watched a show with Hana and Helen, and returned to the B.C. Sugar Pool, where even Daisy came to the underwater viewing area posing for pictures. Those two harbour porpoises are super cute!

After that we saw a sleepy Elfin having a nap, and headed into the main building to get some more pictures for the jellyfish photo competition.

We all felt that the day was over in next to no time, but nevertheless, it was a really great day.

English Bay and Stanley Park

Today we went to Vancouver to spend a whole day there, especially at English Bay and Stanley Park.
First, we strolled along English Bay until English Bay beach where Tom was brave enough to go swimming in the cold Burrard Inlet. Unfortunately, it was low tide so that the water slide was closed.
On our way back we walked along the seawall and admired this rock balancing art by John Shaver who just balances all stones without the use of any glue.

From Second Beach we headed towards the Vancouver Aquarium where we saw our first penguin walk. It was such fun watching those two penguins waddle along. I definitely have to see that again!
On our way to the last show starring Hana and Helen, we had a stop over at the B.C. Sugar Pool to say hi to Jack and Daisy, but only Jack came to the underwater viewing area which was great, nonetheless.
Then it was time to watch Hana and Helen in action – and, unfortunately, their show was over much too soon, as I could watch them for hours and hours…
We then had a quick look at the harbour seals (happily swimming in the water) and Steller sea lions (already dozing – well, one of the girls was, the other one just came out of the water).
And finally, we tried to get some more jellyfish shots to enter the competition with.

Anyway, as it was a really sunny day, we went to Lumberman’s Arch and to the water park close-by where Ben and Tom had lots of fun. A seagull seemed to copy all that behaviour there and went for some fun in the water, too.

Ben and Tom enjoyed this day very much – and so did we!

Canada Day at the Vancouver Aquarium

Today is Canada Day – and we originally wanted to spend this special day on Canada Place, but as this day was predicted to be one of the hottest days, we changed plans and headed to a cooler place, the Vancouver Aquarium with its underwater viewing galleries.

Surprisingly enough, there were not too many visitors, mainly tourists as the locals celebrated at various other locations.

We went straight to Jack and Daisy’s habitat at the B.C. Sugar Pool where we did not have to wait long for Jack to come down to the underwater viewing area. We had lots of fun playing with Jack – and we even saw Daisy swimming forward a bit as she mostly prefers hanging around in her favourite corner.

After some time we went to Aurora and Qila’s habitat to watch the ‘Caring for Belugas’ show where Qila presented her belly to her trainer which represents an enormous amount of trust as she can neither see her trainer nor breathe during that time.

Then it was back to Jack and Daisy where we spent the majority of the remaining day at the Aquarium, playing with Jack. In between we even saw a training session where both Jack and Daisy interacted with their trainers Paula and Anna who had enrichment toys for the harbour porpoises. Shortly before we had to go home, even Daisy came down to the underwater viewing area, posing for some pictures while Jack was hovering behind her. Daisy is such a beautiful harbour porpoise whereas Jack is simply cute – and both are so adorable!

On our way to the exit of the Vancouver Aquarium, we saw Elfin holding a yellow ball in his paws and had to take some pictures. Isn’t he super cute?!

We then had a nice stroll through Stanley Park where we observed a raccoon with her four children trying to copy everything that their mum did. That was quite interesting to watch!

Anyway, we had a fantastic Canada Day!

A wonderful afternoon at the Vancouver Aquarium

We try to visit the Vancouver Aquarium once a week, and this Wednesday we were pleasantly surprised to find Jack and Daisy back in their usual habitat, the B.C. Sugar pool. It was even better to find them both very active, probably being happy to be back home again.

Daisy came down to the underwater viewing area posing for pictures. She seems to check out all the lenses and decides to go for the biggest one. And Marcus was the lucky one she was posing for (probably seeing herself in the lens). That was so cute!
Jack was waiting to come down after Daisy’s turn and was happily playing with some visitors, including me! That made me really happy!
We also got to know Margo, a very friendly and engaging volunteer at the Vancouver Aquarium who told us a lot more about harbour porpoises, seals and fur seals that we did not know before. Thanks for the nice chat, Margo!

Then we went to see the dolphin show starring Hana and Helen. This time only one trainer, Leonora, interacted with both the Pacific white-sided dolphins. And it always such fun to watch them show all their different behaviours.
After their training session, Helen started playing with a fish which she spat out into the air, and then she caught it again. There was one time when a seagull nearby wanted to catch Helen’s fish, too. But Helen was quicker and snatched the fish away from under the seagull’s ‘nose’. That was really interesting to watch.
Hana, however, was enjoying herself in the smaller dolphin habitat – and probably happy to have it to herself again. Aren’t those dolphins adorable?

Then it was time to leave, but we managed to squeeze in a quick good-bye to Tanu, Katmai and Elfin. But we will be back soon!

On our way home we stopped at one point of Stanley Park’s seawall to admire the Lions Gate Bridge. Our second stop was near the Lost Lagoon where we walked along this beautiful newly built boardwalk in Stanley Park, the Cathedral Trail. From there we headed towards the Lost Lagoon and watched lots of wildlife, among them a swan and a group of Canada geese swimming in formation.

Back home in Burnaby, we were greeted by a cloud which looked very much like a harbour porpoise. That is definitely a sign, eh?

Another great day at the Vancouver Aquarium

Today we spent quite a lot of time at the Vancouver Aquarium – so much actually that we watched the dolphin show three times! But it never gets boring to watch Hana and Helen interact with their trainers. Besides, every time there is always something different to see, so that each show is definitely unique.
Marcus also had a nice chat with Leonora, a marine mammal trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium, – and we also had another quick chat with Lauren, an interpretive specialist at the Vancouver Aquarium. It is great to meet the passionate people who work with those amazing animals here at the Aquarium.

In the habitat opposite Hana and Helen’s one, all four female Steller sea lions were present and relaxing (or trying to sleep?) in groups of two, whereas the harbour seals were swimming non-stop.
The fur seals were probably inspired by the sea lions and decided to have a nap, too.

We also paid a visit to the African penguins, and all seven of them were standing close together – as usual.
From there it is just a step or two to see Aurora and Qila, the mother-daughter beluga duo swimming in their habitat. First Aurora was relaxing in rather shallow water while Qila swam by, but later we could watch both of them in action – from the underwater viewing area.

On we went to have a look at Elfin who seemed to be enjoying some rays of sunshine. Isn’t he cute?
Then we decided to go to see Schoona. I love sea turtles, and it is always very relaxing to watch her swim through her habitat.
On our way to the seahorses we also saw this beautiful tasselled wobbegong, a species of carpet shark. Its pattern looks amazing, eh?
And we really spotted some seahorses which usually takes some time. Can you see them, too?
A bit further on, we also saw those garden eels that always retreat into their holes when a fish swims above them. They are fun to watch, too.

However, as huge Jack and Daisy fans, the most interesting part for us was to watch these two harbour porpoises interact with their trainers, and later on seeing them checking out themselves in a window that was covered with a blind and acted as a mirror. It really looked like as if they were checking out their outward appearances, their flippers and flukes. That was so funny to watch.

After we said our goodbyes to them, on our way home, we got the most amazing view of Lions Gate Bridge which I had never seen before at night. So we had a quick stop to take some pictures of it. Stunning, eh?

Vancouver Aquarium, Lost Lagoon and Burnaby sunset

The last day of May promised to be as sunny as a summer’s day – and is there any better way than to spend it at the Vancouver Aquarium?! – So that we did.

On our way there, at Devonian Harbour Park, we saw a Canada geese family with lots of goslings swimming happily together.

Once inside the Vancouver Aquarium, we made a beeline to Jack and Daisy’s habitat, only to see that now there were six female fur seals in. I had never seen any of those before, and they were fun to watch, too.
Jack and Daisy were still in the little dolphin habitat. But the good thing for us was to be able to see them interact with their trainers during one of their training sessions. Jack seemed to respond more to them than Daisy did.
We then walked over to the Steller sea lions and harbour seals to watch an interesting training session with them as well. Vancouver Aquarium interpreter Lauren and both marine mammal trainers Anna and Leonora made this experience very special.
It was the first time that we actually saw all four female Steller sea lions together with their male colleagues, the three harbour seals.
And then it was time to see the dolphins in action. Once again, Lauren very enthusiastically led the audience through the dolphin show in which Hana and Helen had fun interacting with their trainers Anna and Leonora.
When we went to see Elfin, Tanu and Katmai, they all seemed to have a very relaxing day.
Time is always flying by when being at the Vancouver Aquarium, and as it was nearly time to leave, we quickly headed towards Schoona’s habitat which she shares with lots of fish, some sharks and rays. So one of her co-inhabitants is often swimming in front of the lens and trying to sneak into the picture…

Then it was time to say good-bye to all the animals, but surprisingly we saw quite a few different animals on our way home, too.
In Stanley Park, there was this black squirrel sitting in the grass and climbing a tree later, and some turtles were swimming in the Lost Lagoon. There we also saw those huge berries which looked like raspberries, but I looked them up and found out that these are edible salmonberries.
At Devonian Harbour Park we did not only see two geese families, and one of them had twelve (!) goslings, but also some birds. There were a house sparrow, a male red-winged blackbird and a female Red-shafted Northern Flicker. Did you know that these Northern Flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground? Interesting, eh?
At Cardero Park we also saw a Common Starling, and a bit further away, near the Marina, there was a single duck swimming with its duckling.

Back home in Burnaby, we had a beautiful sunset with great clouds. What a fantastic ending of such an amazing day!

We spent a great day in Vancouver

Sunday showed its sunny side so that we couldn’t resist and head out into the sunlight to enjoy a great day in sunny Vancouver.

On our way to Stanley Park we observed one of the blue herons standing in the water near Devonian Harbour Park and trying to catch some food – and that it did! It just seemed as if its food didn’t want to be eaten and tried to seal the blue heron’s bill. After this exciting experience we continued our walk to the Vancouver Aquarium where we couldn’t wait to get inside once again. Well, it was only the second time this week…

We headed to the first sea otters’ habitat where we watched Tanu and Katmai at feeding time. And then we saw that Elfin, the male sea otter, was in his habitat again – happily playing with a red ball. They are all so cute, and I simply can’t get enough observing them.

Then we went on to have a look at Hana and Helen who were happily swimming in their smaller habitat, especially Helen swam around all the time – on her back!
Opposite them the sea lion jumped out of the water while two seals were looking out of the water.

But as huge Jack and Daisy fans we simply had to go down to their underwater viewing area. Surprisingly, Daisy came down this time posing in front of the cameras – just like a little diva, but so super cute! The funny thing was that Jack didn’t come down as long as Daisy was there, instead he hovered nearby observing the situation. It looked like as if he had been parked there.

Then we made our way to the 3:30 pm dolphin show but had to stand in a second row as it was really crowded. As always, you could see that Hana and Helen had great fun during their training session which was commented on very enthusiastically by Lauren, a passionate interpretive specialist for marine mammals at the Vancouver Aquarium. After the show and a little chat with Lauren we went to see Hana and Helen at their underwater viewing area and were amazed how close they swam by.

After having spent some time there, we headed to Aurora and Qila’s underwater viewing area, sat on one of the benches and just watched those beautiful belugas in action.

From there it’s just a little walk to Jack and Daisy’s habitat where we spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Jack (me) – and yes, he came down very often – or taking pictures of him (mostly Marcus, sometimes me as I was busy playing with him…). We were literally the last two persons to leave Jack. Strangely enough he somehow sensed that his fun was over and he stopped playing, and it seemed as if he was saying something like ‘You can’t go now. I’m so cute!’ That was heart breaking…

Anyway, we really had to leave the Vancouver Aquarium and strolled through Stanley Park where we saw two squirrels until we arrived at the Lost Lagoon. There we saw a blue heron, together with two ducks, on one of those logs placed in the Lost Lagoon. After a while a tree swallow landed on a bird house nearby. Of course, the usual Canada geese and seagulls were present, too. And then, just like some days ago, a male red-winged blackbird appeared, quickly followed by a female one.

At Devonian Harbour Park we couldn’t believe our eyes as we saw another pair of black-winged blackbirds there. The Canada geese family and their goslings from last time were swimming on the pond before heading onto land for their lunch or dinner.

As we had to get back to Burrard SkyTrain station, we walked along the seafront, passed the marina and saw two seagulls checking out their seafront property, i.e. this interesting piece of art. A bit further on we also had a great view of the Convention Centre, the sea plane terminal and Vancouver harbour. But we had to get some rest on those lovely benches at Jack Poole Plaza (who can’t resist sitting on those huge benches?) where we could once again enjoy the view of Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, North Vancouver and the mountain range with those funnily shaped mountains.

As you can see, we had a most fantastic day which simply has to be repeated soon!

We just love the Vancouver Aquarium

Although it was already around noon, we decided to head towards Vancouver and spend some time at the Vancouver Aquarium. It is always quite a long walk from the SkyTrain station to Stanley Park, but we don’t mind it at all. Besides, we had our first little stop at Jack Poole Plaza where Vancouver’s Olympic Cauldron and the huge Harbour Spirit Digital Orca by Douglas Coupland (installed in 2010) can be admired. The view of the mountains and North Vancouver there is also spectacular.

On our way to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park we saw a raccoon on top of a bin – perhaps looking for its lunch?

Once inside the Vancouver Aquarium, we had a short stop at those epaulette sharks which are somehow cute to watch.
On we went to have a look at the sea otters Tanu and Katmai who were in their front habitat again, either relaxing or grooming. Aren’t they just cute?
And then finally, we made our way to Jack and Daisy’s underwater viewing area but, unfortunately, neither of them came down although we were waiting and waiting…
Well, if those harbour porpoises are too busy, what can we do?!
So we just went a little further to the next underwater viewing area and observed Aurora and Qila swimming by.

And then it was time for the dolphin show starring Hana and Helen who were very excited today, jumping out of the water or swimming very fast already – even before they could show their various behaviours during their show. Once again Lauren, a very friendly and enthusiastic interpretive specialist for marine mammals at the Vancouver Aquarium, guided the audience through each and every step of the training session.

On our way back to Jack and Daisy again we passed the sea lion and seal habitat where a sea lion sat on her deck and tried to catch some sun – or so it seemed – and two seals were swimming by very quickly.
Another stop at Penguin Point let us see all seven penguins standing together on one spot, as usual, on their rockwork.

And then, finally, it was Jack and Daisy time! And can you believe it, Jack was in playing mood and came down to the viewing area so often that I was even a little bit exhausted after having played with him for an hour. I really can’t get enough of him, especially as he seems to copy some of my movements. Anyway, he is so cute – and he probably knows it!

Of course, we would have stayed longer but the Vancouver Aquarium closes at 5 pm, and we were literally among the last ones to leave! Just look at those empty spaces there…
However, we had a very quick stop at the epaulette sharks shortly before finally heading out.
But we will be back very soon!

As usual we went to the Lost Lagoon to enjoy the peace and quiet at one of our favourite places. Even our favourite bench was unoccupied so that we could enjoy the swans, ducks, seagulls and Canada geese. Surprisingly, even a male red-winged blackbird came by. I had never seen one at that location before, only at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary so far.

As an additional bonus we even saw a Canada geese family with their goslings swimming at the pond at Devonian Harbour Park.

Well, after such an exciting but also a little bit exhausting day, we just needed some relaxation time at those huge benches at Jack Poole Plaza with breathtaking views of either downtown Vancouver, Lord Stanley Park or North Vancouver, the sea plane terminal in the foreground and the mountains in the background. What a beautiful place to live in!

And to top it off, this wonderful day full of sunshine ended with a great sunset back home in Burnaby.

We went to the Vancouver Aquarium – once again

Well, we had to leave our apartment building as plumbing repairs were planned – and what better place to spend the day than at the Vancouver Aquarium?

So off we went taking the SkyTrain to get into Vancouver and then walking along the waterfront to finally reach the Vancouver Aquarium where we first of all went to see… well, you have certainly guessed it correctly, Jack and Daisy. Jack was in his habitat, but where was Daisy? A short walk confirmed that she was still in the smaller dolphin habitat waiting to get over to Jack again. After a while we could even see Vancouver Aquarium staff getting Daisy ready for her transfer to their harbour porpoise habitat. Once there, Daisy was greeted by Jack, and we could see them swimming happily together.

Of course, we went to see Hana and Helen who definitely had fun during their show presented by Lauren, a very passionate interpretive specialist for marine mammals at the Vancouver Aquarium, whereas the two Steller sea lions opposite were making loud noises.
After some play time, Tanu and Katmai were holding paws and resting on the water.
We did not realize how fast time flew by so that we were among the last persons leaving the Aquarium before closing time. This only gave us the chance to have a last glimpse at one of the epaulette sharks.

Outside the Vancouver Aquarium we enjoyed a lovely stroll through Stanley Park where we watched some Canada geese and later on a raccoon climbing onto a container (although it really looks like a cat with a bushy tail, doesn’t it?).

At the Lost Lagoon we sat down on a bench, enjoyed the sunshine and watched the wildlife around us.

Then it was time to head home, once again walking along Vancouver’s waterfront where this time we could see various ships in front of the mountains. And we appreciated, as so often, what beautiful place on earth we are living on.

Vancouver Aquarium – here we come

Finally we found some time to hop onto the SkyTrain and go to Vancouver where we wanted to visit our favourite animals at the Vancouver Aquarium again.

On the way there along the waterfront we had a short stop at Cardero Park where we admired those huge tulips and all the other beautiful flowers.

Inside the Aquarium we first of all headed to Jack and Daisy but we only found their empty habitat which had to be cleaned. Fortunately, we could still have a look at them as they were swimming in the smaller dolphin habitat (without the dolphins, of course!).
Hana and Helen were quite active, and we were observing them in the underwater exhibit and later during one of their great shows where they showed us a lot of their activities.
By the way, near the dolphin habitat there is this huge native art salmon which looks pretty good.
Of course, we did not forget to visit the penguins with Hope, our favourite one, and went on to see Tanu and Katmai who were rafting together. That was so cute!

On our way home we went through Stanley Park (where we found another geocache – yay!) and then simply had to take the detour to the Lost Lagoon from where we went to see Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden (named after them as they donated so many plants to Stanley Park). And this is such a beautiful place, especially now that the rhododendrons are in full bloom.

At the Coal Harbour Community Centre we saw those huge tulips (most of them still in the sun) – and I had to take some pictures with them, the marina and Vancouver’s waterfront.

Once again, we had a most beautiful and sunny day at Vancouver, and we will be back soon.