Port Alberni’s aquarium has opened to the public for the first time in almost a year.
The aquarium officially opened to the public on the weekend of Aug. 14-15.
“It went really well,” said Amber Stroeder, a volunteer with the aquarium and a biology instructor at North Island College. “There were a lot of people down at the Harbour Quay because of the Rock and Gem Show.”
For the past two years, the aquarium has been struggling financially—something that has been complicated by a change in leadership and the COVID-19 pandemic. The building was forced to close its doors in November 2020 and aquarium staff held “virtual” tours over Zoom. But thanks to some community donations, the Alberni Aquarium Association has been able to look after the animals for the last few months and re-open its doors.
The aquarium is still following COVID-19 protocols, with limited numbers of people allowed inside and a mask mandate. The touch tanks are also closed to the public.
“But you can still see all the familiar animals and have all the same visual experiences,” said Stroeder. “Many of the local visitors know a lot of the animals by name, and they’ll be able to see the animals they know and love.”
Currently, the Alberni Aquarium has a special exhibit about all the creatures—big and small—who live in the Somass Estuary.
The aquarium has also been offering private tours for summer camps, and Stroeder hopes to have some school groups visiting this fall.
“Our mandate is to create environmental awareness,” said Stroeder.
The aquarium is currently open on Fridays (1-4 p.m.), Saturdays (noon to 5 p.m.), Sundays (noon to 4 p.m.) and Mondays (noon to 4 p.m.). Admission for ages four and up is $10, or $7 for students and seniors. Anyone under the age of four can visit for free. Annual memberships are also available at a cost of $45 for families and $25 for an individual.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for private booking requests.