• Archives
  • Feb11

    Vancouver Aquarium Up Close-8

    Vancouver Aquarium’s Up Close exhibit features new interactive shows, special behind-the-scenes experiences, and up-close programming and displays designed to give visitors a new and exciting insight into what’s involved in caring for the diverse and unique creatures at the Aquarium.

    Vancouver Aquarium Up Close-2

    Last weekend, I joined a group of fellow bloggers at the Aquarium for a special tour of several spaces open to the public for the first time in its history.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Dec31

    This year posed no shortage of dining, arts, and cultural events around Vancouver. Out of hundreds of my Flickr photo sets, I’ve culled a few favourite 2013 event moments in the city. Here’s to another lively and varied 2014!

    2013 PuSh Festival Opening Gala/Mayor Robertson, Dan Mangan
    [Mayor Robertson, Dan Mangan, PuSh Festival Opening Gala]

    The Grape Debate-13
    [Anthony Gismondi, Michaela Morris, Sid Cross at Dine Out Vancouver's The Grape Debate]

    Blue-spotted Fantail ray
    [Sharks and Rays exhibit, Vancouver Aquarium]
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Dec3

    2013 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown-23
    [Spotted Jellyfish]

    The Vancouver Aquarium is currently showcasing the bioluminescence of the underwater world with “Luminescence – A Celebration of Aquatic Life“, on now through January 22. The Vancouver Aquarium is a wonderful place to spend a rainy day and Vancouverites during this time of the year can relate to the lack of sunshine these sea creatures experience.

    Luminescence has been part of Vancouver Aquarium’s programming for several years, however there are a few new interactive displays this year. Look for the dark blue signs that explain the included features, some of which are lit with special lighting to highlight the inhabitant’s special talents.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Nov21

    Team Sodexo
    [Team Sodexo at Oceanwise Chowder Chowdown]

    Vancouver’s Sixth Annual Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown is by far one of my favourite events to attend. Not only do some of Vancouver’s top chefs go into friendly battle preparing some of the finest seafood chowder around, but lively conversation around the aquarium along with paired craft beers in hand draws a packed crowd – at least for the past four years I’ve been there.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Oct8

    Ned Bell preparing his award-winning chowder
    [YEW's Ned Bell at the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown, 2011]

    The biggest threat to our oceans is overfishing. For this reason, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program was developed to make it easy for consumers and food-related industries to purchase sustainably-caught seafood. Our local waters offer numerous options for maintaining a healthy fish supply while limiting damage to ocean habitats. As well, the program ensures that other, potentially endangered species aren’t harvested during the catch.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Aug29

    Jelly Invasion poster

    Jellyfish are poised to invade Vancouver’s best java joints from September 16 to 22 when Vancouver Aquarium launches its Jelly Invasion Latte Art Contest
     
    The Aquarium is inviting local baristas, known for the intricate designs they swirl into foam, to inject some sea life into their café lattes. Beyond their usual repertoire of hearts, flowers and leaves, they’re being invited to add beautiful jellyfish to the mix during the contest period.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • May27

    After Hours banner

    If you’re in the mood to be captivated by thousands of jellies sans the little ones, join the Vancouver Aquarium for After Hours on June 6. Experience the mesmerizing sights of Jelly Invasion in an adults-only environment while sipping a bevvy and experiencing the tranquility of the Aquarium without the pitter patter of tiny feet.

    Jelly Invasion features over 15 species of jellyfishes from around the world. These beautiful marine animals are more complex than you might think. Through new exhibits and interactive displays, visitors can learn how jellyfish hunt, eat, protect themselves and reproduce without having hearts, brains, bones and eyes.

    Did you know that jellyfishes include some of the most dangerous animals in the world? Test your knowledge at Jelly Factor.

    Visit Jelly Deli to learn how these delicacies are prepared in various parts of the globe. Foodies will be able to sample these Ocean Wise™ delicacies, specially prepared by Aquarium chefs for the event.

    Spotted jellyfish
    [Spotted jellyfish. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium]

    Get a glimpse of some of the animals featured in the educational programs that take place at the Vancouver Aquarium. And for a bit of 4-D fun, BBC Earth’s The Great Salmon Run will be screened. Be prepared for a show full of exciting sensory effects.

    From 7:30 to 8:30, enjoy Culturing Jellies. Explore the world of jellies through a biologist’s perspective.

    Tickets will not be available for sale at the door. Food, wine, and beer will be available for purchase during After Hours.

    After Hours: Jelly Invasion for Adults Only
    Date: June 6, 6 to 10 pm
    Venue: Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way, Vancouver
    Tickets: Members, $18; non-members, $25 (including tax); available only in advance online. Membership cards required for member-priced ticket holders.
    Note: This is a 19+ event. Photo ID is required for entry. Alcohol purchase is available ONLY with the purchase of food.

  • Feb18

    Ocellated freshwater stingray
    [Ocellated freshwater stingray]

    It’s always a treat heading over to the Vancouver Aquarium. At any given time of the year, a new exhibit is up, with educational displays, fascinating sea creatures, and the chance to watch them go about their daily business.

    Sharks and Rays at VanAqua-10 Sharks and Rays at VanAqua-9

    This month unleashes a new exhibit: The Secret World of Sharks and Rays.

    Spotted ratfish
    [Spotted ratfish]

    Last Saturday, I was invited to a blogger preview for a guided tour to see the sharks, rays, skates and ratfishes up close and personal.

    Blue-spotted Fantail ray
    [Blue-spotted Fantail ray]

    Although sharks have a menacing reputation, they face endangerment through overexploitation and pollution. As far as the difference between stingrays and skates, stingrays deliver their babies live while skates lay eggs. Oh yeah, and rays have those famous stingers.

    Leopard Whipray
    [Leopard Whipray]

    Daily live shark feedings are part of the exhibit. And although 14 types of sharks live off our local coast alone, it was sad to learn that between 30 and 100 million of them are harvested worldwide annually.

    Blacktip reef shark
    [Blacktip reef shark]

    At the Pacific Canada Pavilion, life-sized models of thresher, basking, and bluntnose sixgill sharks are on view, to give visitors an impression of just how large and detailed these animals are.

    Basking shark model (second largest fish in the world)
    [Basking shark: the second largest fish in the world]

    There’s also a 4D BBC documentary about the life cycle of salmon. From raging rapids to hungry bears, bald eagles, and sea lions, the salmon too have their own challenges to overcome. This beautifully filmed feature delivers BC’s West coast to the world, and the stunning scenery is worth the price of admission alone.

    Illuminated shark egg
    [Illuminated shark egg]

    As always, the Vancouver Aquarium aims to educate the public about the threats posed to sea life: salmon need to survive in order to allow other animals to do the same. Children can learn how salmon drains are used to protect the salmon’s home.

    The 12-minute film is filled with splashy, colourful high definition 3D effects, making for an entertaining and educational story for all to enjoy.

    In addition to the regular exhibit hours, there’s a special upcoming Shark Night on March 5, from 6 to 8 pm (currently sold out, but check with the Aquarium as there may be a cancellation list). The evening will bring together four speakers to discuss the mysteries of Greenland and sixgill sharks, two native Canadian species.

    Zebra shark
    [Zebra shark. Photo credit: Vancouver Aquarium]

    While you’re at the Aquarium, don’t miss out on the other exhibits. This was my first time venturing into the Amazon Rainforest, where tropical birds, gorgeous colourful butterflies, a couple of sloths in trees, and other creatures abound.

    Amazon Gallery butterfly

    Sharks and Rays, a featured exhibit, runs through April 30. Visit the website for schedules, tickets, and daily 4D film showtimes.

  • Jan29

    Vancouver Aquarium Luminescence-10

    The Vancouver Aquarium’s next adults-only After Hours event is coming up on February 20. Enjoy the new Secret World of Sharks and Rays exhibit and discover the amazing lifestyles of the not-so-famous sharks and their cousins – the skates, rays, and ratfishes.

    It’ll be a wonderful chance to explore the galleries and exhibits in peace and tranquility while savouring a glass of beer or wine. There will be Shark Dives at 7 and 8:30 pm. Visit the website event page for details.
     
    After Hours at The Aquarium
    Date: February 20, 6 to 10 pm
    Venue: Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way, Vancouver
    Tickets: $13.25 Members (membership card required); $21 General Admission; only available in advance online
    Note: This is a 19+ event. Photo ID required for entry. Alcohol will be available only with a food purchase.

  • Nov30

    Chongqing OceanWise Media Launch/Dr. John Nightingale, President & CEO, Vancouver Aquarium
    [Dr. John Nightingale, President & CEO, Vancouver Aquarium]

    The Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers to ensure they have the most current scientific information regarding sustainable seafood and to help them make ocean-friendly buying decisions. The options are highlighted on their menus and display cases with the Ocean Wise symbol, making it easier for consumers to make ocean-friendly seafood choices.

    Chongqing OceanWise Media Launch
    [Szechuan Chongqing Restaurant receives the Ocean Wise plaque]
    L to R: Kevin Huang; Executive Chef Robert Wong; Lisa Wong; Tara Teng, Miss World Canada 2012; Mike McDermid]

    And on Wednesday afternoon, Szechuan Chongqing became Canada’s first Chinese seafood restaurant to don the Ocean Wise symbol on its menu. Media were invited to the restaurant to meet Executive Chef Robert Wong, sample his fine seafood dishes, and learn about Ocean Wise’s sustainable seafood program.

    Chongqing OceanWise Media Launch/Chef Robert Wong preparing a sablefish
    [Chef Robert Wong preparing a sablefish]

    Although Ocean Wise’s Mike McDermid hopes to see the program go global, right now it’s staying within Canada. However, both France and Australia have started out a similar program within their food communities.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Nov26

    Vancouver Aquarium Luminescence/Japanese Sea Nettle

    Awhile back, I featured the opening of the Luminescence exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium. Luminescence unleashes the many ways that animals create and reflect light in nature.

    Vancouver Aquarium Luminescence/herring

    Through several exhibits, the Aquarium hopes to answer questions to some of the phenomena of the creatures in our oceans. Bioluminescence is light produced by a chemical reaction which originates in an organism. When both luciferin (producing light) and luciferase (creating a reaction) combine, light is generated as result of the energy released through the combination.

    Vancouver Aquarium Luminescence-5

    For some animals bioluminescence works as a defense mechanism to startle or divert attention from predators, and can also help to recognize their mate. Lighting also aids in luring prey.

    Fluorescence, on the other hand, occurs when light of one wavelength (or colour) is absorbed by a substance and is almost immediately re-emitted or transformed into another wavelength (or colour). Fluorescence requires a light source.

    Electric eel
    [Electric eel]

    I returned over the weekend to check out the exhibits, watch Scuba Santa dive into the pool in search of missing Christmas bells, and experience The Polar Express in 4D.

    All aboard for a 4D experience
    [All aboard for a 4D experience]

    Vancouver Aquarium Luminescence/Scuba Santa
    [Scuba Santa]

    I loved the experience of smelling hot chocolate and being in a winter scene complete with snowflakes. If you remember the animated film, this is a 15 minute version, captured with some pretty amazing effects.

    Jelly Swarm, an interactive light installation

    Luminescence is accompanied by Jelly Swarm, an interactive light installation created by Tangible Interaction, in collaboration with origami artist Joseph Wu.

    Jelly Swarm, an interactive light installation

    Jelly Swarm, an interactive light installation

    And while you’re at the Aquarium, don’t forget about the other great underwater creatures!

    Vancouver Aquarium Luminescence/Waving hi

    Vancouver Aquarium Luminescence/Mom looks on at babies

    Vancouver Aquarium Luminescence-10

    Luminescene at VanAqua-21

    Vancouver Aquarium Luminescence-3

    If you’re with small kids, you’ll want to coordinate your visit to see Scuba Santa at the Strait of Georgia exhibit. He makes an appearance on weekends at 11:30 am and 1:30 pm, and daily from December 19 to 24.

    Vancouver Aquarium/Penguin Point

    Luminescence runs through January 22, 2013.

  • Nov9

    Chef Robert Clark, Vancouver Aquarium's Teddie Geach
    [Chef Robert Clark, Vancouver Aquarium's Teddie Geach]

    To help kick off Ocean Wise Month in Vancouver, ORU Restaurant at Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel hosted media and invited guests for an afternoon of sustainable seafood preparation, tasting, and education. Ocean Wise products mean an ocean-friendly seafood choice in terms of sustainability. If you’re interested in ensuring the health of our oceans for future generations, this is the only way to go.

    Ocean Wise Month Media Launch-2

    Ocean Wise works with over 500 partners across Canada and at over 1,300 locations to date, including restaurants, retailers, suppliers, culinary schools, sports and entertainment venues, and universities. Program partners can be found from Tofino to St. John’s, Newfoundland, proving that our ocean’s health is a growing and significant concern.

    Dolf Dejong, Vancouver Aquarium's Vice President of Conservation and Education
    [Dolf Dejong]

    According to Dolf Dejong, Vancouver Aquarium’s Vice President of Conservation and Education, “We need to shift the way we consume seafood so that we can protect our waters before more our fish stocks are gone.”  

    BC Spot prawns

    A few examples of local and sustainable seafood items with the Ocean Wise seal of approval include:
    - BC & Alaska Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink, and Sockeye salmons (seine net, gill or troll caught)
    - BC spot prawns (trap caught)
    - Clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops (beach or suspension farmed)
    - BC Albacore tuna (poll or troll caught)
    - Pacific cod (bottom longline or trap caught)
    - Pacific halibut (bottom longline or handline caught)

    Ocean Wise Month Media Launch-5 Ocean Wise Month Media Launch-6

    The upcoming (and sold out) Ocean Wise 2012 Chowder Chowdown competition will focus on ocean-friendly chowders paired with craft beer. This is one of my favourite annual events and I’m sorry to be missing out due to another commitment that week.

    Ocean Wise Month Media Launch/Coho salmon prep Ocean Wise Month Media Launch-8
    [The Daily Catch prepares Coho salmon]

    Ocean Wise Month Media Launch-9 ORU Restaurant Executive Chef Darren Brown Ocean Wise Month Media Launch-4
    [ORU Restaurant Executive Chef Darren Brown shucks local oysters]

    Chefs Darren Brown (of Fairmont Pacific Rim’s ORU Restaurant), Robert Clark (formerly of C), and Dylan McCulloch and Ryan Johnson, co-founders of The Daily Catch on Commercial were on hand to demonstrate some of the ways to prepare sustainable seafood, from shucking Sawmill Bay oysters to slicing open a fresh Coho.

    Robert Clark prepares the spot prawns

    Robert Clark boiled up some BC spot prawns (a local favourite available during May and June), while the staff at ORU passed around a variety of beautifully prepared dishes for us to sample from the kitchen. I could really taste the freshness of the seafood while feeling good about eating it.

    Spot prawn Escabeche, with avocado, heart-of-palm salsa Salmon tartare, cucumber, puffed rice, yuzu Sawmill Bay oyster p'o boy Ocean Wise Month Media Launch-4 Candied cold-smoked salmon, fried caper, preserved lemon marscapone

    For more information on Ocean Wise, visit the website or download the free iPhone app, updated regularly with ocean-friendly seafood options.

  • Oct15

    Entertainment by DJ Leanne and musicians
    [Tunes by Buddha Sax, DJ Leanne, and Percussionist Pher]

    Last Friday evening in the heart of Stanley Park, Vancouverites had the chance to dress up and enjoy some of the city’s favourite restaurants while sipping BC wines at Toast to the Coast.

    Luminescence: Baby jellies getting older

    This fun annual gala raises needed cash to help the Aquarium fund several key programs. Over 500 guests attended the sold-out event while music and a silent auction kept everyone entertained.

    Toast to the Coast silent auction table
    [One of several silent auction tables]

    Diving for Pearls of Gratitude

    For a $25 donation, guests got a 50% chance at winning a set of pearl earrings at the Pearls of Gratitude “Diving for Pearls” station.

    All seafood served at the event was Ocean Wise-sanctioned.

    Toast to the Coast/Hillside Bistro's spiced carrot apple soup with golden apple froth Toast to the Coast/Fish House in Stanley Park's Rainbow Dungeness crab California roll
    [Hillside Bistro's spiced carrot apple soup; Fish House's Rainbow Dungeness crab California roll]

    Savoury Coast's pepper crusted seared albacore tuna, tomato gelee, crispy onion ring
    [Savoury Coast's pepper crusted seared albacore tuna, tomato gelee, crispy onion ring]

    Wild Rice's smoked kabocha squash, braised shitake mushrooms on a sesame cracker
    [Wild Rice's smoked kabocha squash, braised shitake mushrooms on a sesame cracker]

    Toast to the Coast/YEW's Albacore tuna burgers, truffle brioche, pear and golden raisin relish, honey aioli, avocado
    [YEW's Albacore tuna burgers, truffle brioche, pear and golden raisin relish, honey aioli, avocado]

    Food, wine, and craft beer (courtesy of Granville Island Brewing) was interspersed around both levels of the aquarium, letting guests mingle amongst the colourful aquatic displays. As always, an oyster bar is one of my go-to spots for any event. Oyster Seafood & Rawbar shucked up some nice bivalves amongst the fish tanks.

    Toast to the Coast-6 Oyster Vancouver at Toast to the Coast Oyster Vancouver at Toast to the Coast
    [Oyster Seafood & Rawbar at Toast to the Coast]

    Hotel stays, fine jewellery, a 16GB Samsung Galaxy S III, and beauty packages were a few of the numerous items up for bid at the silent auction. CTV’s weatherman Michael Kuss kept the evening flowing as emcee.

    Toast to the Coast emcee Michael Kuss from CTV Toast to the Coast-8

    Here are several photos I took during the course of the evening. Congratulations to both the Ocean Wise and Toast to the Coast organizers for putting on another wonderful evening full of gourmet food and BC wine, while bringing together the food and wine-loving community, all in support of a great cause!
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Oct9

    Another cup of beautiful chowder
    [A lovingly prepared cup of chowder awaits guests at the 2011 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown]

    The Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown, presented by Rickard’s and Granville Island Brewing, is back again this year on November 21 at the Aquarium. This is one of my favourite annual Vanaqua events (and how could it not be with gourmet food and excellent craft beer)!

    Black Tusk Ale

    “This friendly, but competitive, cook-off brings together 12 of Vancouver’s top chefs as they showcase their original ocean-friendly seafood chowders, paired with craft beer, at this fun and delicious consumer event,” according to Mike McDermid, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise partner relations manager.

    Executive Chef Dana Hauser
    [Chef Dana Hauser of Herons at The Fairmont Waterfront]

    The winner will be crowned 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion by a celebrity panel of judges. Guests will again be invited this year to vote for the People’s Choice winner at what promises to be memorable evening of flavourful chowders, all in support of sustainable seafood.”

    The chefs at Hapa Izakaya
    [Hapa Izakaya, 2011's Chowder Chowdown Champions]
     
    The line-up of local Ocean Wise chefs contending for the winning title of Vancouver Aquarium’s 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion include:
     
    Chefs Alessandro Vianello and Michael Carter | Street Meet
    Chef Dana Hauser | Herons, The Fairmont Waterfront
    Chef Tom Lee | Edible Canada at the Market
    Chef Todd Bright| Wild Rice 
    Chef Alex Tung | Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria 
    Chef Troung Minh Xong | Kamei Royale Japanese Restaurant
    Chef Frank Gort | Showcase Restaurant and Bar, Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle
    Chef Nathan Tower| Savoury Chef Foods
    Chef Chris Whittaker | Forage, Listel Hotel
    Chef Eric Pless | Coast Restaurant 
    Chef Warren Mercier| Vancouver Aquarium
    Chef Derek Bendig | Hotel Eldorado
     
    2012 Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown
    Date: November 21, 7 pm
    Venue: Vancouver Aquarium
    Tickets: $50 (plus HST); available online. All proceeds from the evening will directly support the Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program. Note: Chowder Chowdown is a 19+ event.

    About Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise™
    The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. With over 3,100 Ocean Wise partner locations across Canada, Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come.

  • Sep11

    Van Aquarium fish

    The Vancouver Aquarium’s next adult-only evening is set for September 20 from 6 to 10 pm. The Great Salmon Run 4-D Experience will premiere at the event, showcasing one of nature’s most amazing events. After Hours at The Aquarium offers a chance to explore the Aquarium’s galleries and exhibits without strollers and impatient little ones.

    World Oceans Day at Four Seasons
    [Mike McDermid (with Yew Restaurant Executive Chef Ned Bell) demonstrates the proper way to touch a sunflower sea star during World Oceans Day]

    Highlights of the evening include:
    - BBC Earth’s The Great Salmon Run 4-D Experience
    - Salmon CSI – An interactive salmon dissection examining the inner workings of a salmon while highlighting the challenges they face to survive
    - Hands-on learning sessions in the Wet lab – An opportunity to touch sea stars and urchins
    - Swimming Against the Stream: The Sustainability of Salmon in BC presentation by Mike McDermid from Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program
    - Dolphin show

    After Hours at The Aquarium
    Date: September 20, 6 to 10 pm
    Venue: Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way, Vancouver
    Tickets: $21; Vancouver Aquarium members $13.25; reserve online