Spring Break is here which means many parents are looking for things to do and places to see with their kids. One place that is always a favourite of ours to go and explore is the Vancouver Aquarium and they just recently opened the Discover Rays Touch Pool. We recently got to check it out for ourselves. I was not sure how my preschooler was going to react. I predicted that she was either going to love it, or I would have a Funniest Home Videos worthy clip of her freaking out.
Something like this provides an incredible opportunity for people of all ages to experience aquatic animals up close. The staff were great about instructing everyone to roll up their sleeves and rinse off their hands before putting their hands into the pool. Everyone is also instructed about the proper way to go about “touching” the rays. You are to hold your hand out flat, like you are telling someone to stop, and just wait. You let the rays come to you. There are staff situated around the pool making sure proper technique is followed.
Did my preschooler freak out? Not at all! She was right on in there. We found the perfect spot for her to be able to lie on her tummy and reach her hand down into the water. She followed the proper procedure of having her hand be flat, and not moving. The smile on her face when a ray came and swam under her hand the first time was incredible to see! She did not make any quick motions, and happily waited for another to come by.
We both happily stayed near the pool and just watched the cownose and southern stingrays swim around the 50,000L pool. It’s amazing to see how it is like the stingrays want to be touched. I’d be interested to find out if it’s a sensory thing, maybe they feel electrical pulses from us, I don’t know, but I’m sure there is someone researching into why this is already. I’m intrigued to know what their thoughts are. It’s a big enough pool that if the rays want they can swim in the middle and they do not have to worry about being bothered by anyone on the edges of the pool. There’s even a little waterfall area at one end, and a few of the rays were gathered near here. In the same area where the pool is located you can also see a window that shows some of the behind-the-scenes operations for how they care for these animals, and the water they are swimming in.
How does a stingray feel exactly? I was surprised to find out that they feel slimy to the touch! I was expecting it to be more of a rough, or even a smooth feeling. I was not expecting slimy.
Thank you to the Vancouver Aquarium for providing us the opportunity to Discover Rays. We had an incredible time, and will be back soon!