Victoria Part 03: An Aquarium to make fish rights activists cringe

2009-08-26 Undersea Gardens (7)

On our first day in Victoria, after nearly falling into a deep, day-wasting, nap state in the hotel, the GF and I headed out to the Inner Harbor to see what sort of trouble we could get into.

The Undersea Gardens captured my attention. It's a 150 foot vessel in the harbor itself. You pay the admission fee, and climb down a set of stairs into a steel tank.

2009-08-26 Undersea Gardens

We end up inside an aquarium, with local marine life looking in the windows at us. At first I was a little disappointed because I expected it to be an undersea window into the Harbor. Instead, the part with the fish is also enclosed in a tank. They share water with the Harbor but are isolated from predators, or the tendency to swim off on their own.

The advantage of this kind of set up is that you know you will see a lot of fish. And despite the cramped quarters, it turned out to be a pretty awesome place.

There were a couple things I didn't quite expect.

For one, they have an unattended petting pool. Visitors can touch and pet the star fish and anemones. There's no one there to keep folks in line. The folks visiting while we were there were gentle with the critters, though.

2009-08-26 Undersea Gardens (2) Petting Pond

The were beautiful creatures. The purple starfish didn't look real. They actually looked soft like a stuffed animal, but they were actual sea creatures.

This one appears to be holding hands with a smaller star fish.

2009-08-26 Undersea Gardens (15) Petting Pond

They also have a theater show. It's the only place with seating and you look into a wall of windows on the big tank. There you can see giant eels (with nearly human looking faces), crabs, more star fish, and octopi.

2009-08-26 Undersea Gardens (5)

Of course they had a show. In most places that would be a movie. Or a brief talk describing the facility and its mission. Here it was more of a show-and-tell.

A SCUBA diver in the tank joined the presenter who was in the room for a joint discussion. The presenter talked about a fish, and the diver search the tank, found the fish the presenter was talking about, picked it up and brought it to the windows to show off.

So all of a sudden, there's a guy in a tank sticking a starfish in your face.

2009-08-26 Undersea Gardens (23)

2009-08-26 Undersea Gardens (24)

They did this with the bigger critters as well. It was particularly entertaining watching him carry the octopus around.

I don't have any entertaining anecdotes about this anemone, but it is one of my favorite pictures from the visit. These things just seem so artificial or alien, and yet they are all over the Puget Sound.

2009-08-26 Undersea Gardens (21)

It was dark inside, so I was surprised the pictures came out. But I had a good lens on the camera - the Pentax 50 mm f/1.4. I also had the ISO cranked up to 1600.

I'm glad we visited. If you like fish (looking at rather than eating (well, okay, eating too) and have 45-60 minutes in Victoria, check it out. And stay for the fish show and tell.

You can see a few more pictures from this trip here.


Dragonblogger said...

Really cool pics and starfish, we just attended the Atlantis Aquarium in the Bahama's and I posted them up on my personal blog.

LDK in STL said...

show-and-tell = "Interpretation."

This comment is provided for the benefit of Interpreters world-wide, who might otherwise go after you for calling it show-and-tell. So I guess it's for your benefit, not theirs.

This is for your safety ;)
The visitor's perspective is always important; thanks for sharing yours. Glad you had a nice time.