Posted in Everyday

Birthday with the Fishes

Yesterday, I had the best birthday ever. I spent it admiring the fish and marine life at the Vancouver Aquarium, one of my favourite places. But first, I had the most delicious brunch.

One cool thing about my company is that they give you your birthday as a paid day off. I decided to take the Friday off as well, because why not – four day weekend! So Wednesday, I finished work, super excited to be done for the week, and headed down to the lobby, where I was met by my boyfriend carrying a bouquet. And things only got better from there.

I didn’t care about going out for a birthday dinner; what I really wanted was birthday brunch. So that’s exactly what we did Thursday morning.

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This is the meal that awaited me at Yolks, my favourite brunch place. Pancakes with bananas, walnuts, maple syrup, whipped cream, and salted caramel. Soooooo decadently yummmmyy. I also treated myself to a mimosa. The birthday was started out just right.

Then it was off to the aquarium!

The Vancouver Aquarium is such a wonderful place, with so many different animals, from the varieties of fish to dolphins to turtles to rain forest reptiles to cuddly sea otters and more. One thing I love most about the Vancouver Aquarium, is that it’s primarily a research and rescue center – it’s all about taking care of the animals, releasing those they can, and educating the public about our beautiful oceans.

One of the first exhibits you see walking in is this giant open tank that you can look down into. There’s a set of stairs you can take to go down and see the tank from the side. I love the duo perspectives of this tank, and it remains a nostalgic favourite of mine.

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The tank from above
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Making our way down
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Once down, it’s like you’re right there among the fish

The aquarium is split into sections, both inside and outside. Inside, there’s the Pacific Coast section, where you can see the types of things that are living right off our coast; there’s the tropic section, for all the pretty tropical fish; the Amazon section, one of my favourites; and currently they also have a Meet the Rays exhibit, which I’ll talk about more later. Outside, there are some more coastal animals, and an Arctic section.

We started in the Pacific Coast section. It always surprises and impresses me that there’s so much colour out there, even in the Pacific – normally you just think of the tropics as being colourful. But you’d be wrong!

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These were called Strawberry Anemone

There’s a tank with an octopus in this section, and the challenge is always to try and find him. We think we may have found two spots that might have been him, but we weren’t sure – that octopus really is a master of disguise.

There are a bunch of jellyfish at the aquarium, both from our coast and further.

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This guy was absolutely massive – probably about as tall as me with its tentacles stretched out
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These ones – Umbrella Jellies – were about the size of my pinkie

When we had finished gazing at all the jellies, we headed into the tropics. We watched the feeding of the sharks (reef sharks) and giant manta rays, then we spent some quality time with the cast of Finding Nemo.

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I love seahorses
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Lion fish!

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From the tropics, naturally we headed into the Amazon. This section gets really cool (temperature-wise, it’s the opposite of cool, though, the environment being very, very humid). There’s all kinds of things here besides just fish – reptiles, monkeys, even bats!

There’s an open sort of rain forest section with birds flying around and tortoises crawling by. Walking through the trees, you have to remember to look up and try to find the two resident sloths living there – always hard to find, but I have seen them before, although this trip we only found where we were pretty sure they were hanging out.

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Once you’re through the rain forest, there are a lot of tanks to watch out for – snakes and frogs and lizards, oh my!

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Come to say hello
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Big boy anaconda
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Can you find the snake?

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My boyfriend and I always play a game of who can spot the frog first; needless to say it didn’t take much hunting to find these guys

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It was time to visit the rays! The Discover Rays exhibit includes a huge open touch pool where you can touch a ray when it swims past – but they’re fast so you have to be ready! I managed to stroke a couple, once on the wing and once on the back. The wings are very silky smooth, while the back was bumpy, the way you’d expect a toad to feel. Weird but very cool.

Even despite the rain, we still managed to enjoy ourselves outside, and the animals looked like they were having fun too – except the penguins who, like me, were eyeing the rain with irritation. The dolphin was fooling around, swimming upside down; the sea lions were having a lounge; and the otters had their balls and ribbons to play with.

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I loved my day at the aquarium – it was the perfect birthday.

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