AquaVan pulls out the stops in Alberni

AquaVan delivered their special blend of aquatic programs featuring live animals, props and activities to children at Haahuupayuk School.

Dawn Foxcroft from West Coast Aquatic helps a young visitor create a sea otter puppet during an activity at Haahuupayak School's spring fling

So many of us living on the coast have childhood memories of spending time peering into a tidal pool observing the life of the tiny world within. Those kind of experiences are the stepping stones that forge a deeper love and appreciation for nature, specifically marine life in adulthood for many of us “coasters”.

The work of two local organizations came together this past Monday, to create an indoor spring break experience for families to provide just that kind of experiential connection to our amazing marine world.

West Coast Aquatic through their Tsawalk Partnership Coastal Planning project and Uu-a-thluk (Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Fisheries) brought in the Vancouver Aquarium’s AquaVan for a special tour stop at Haahuupayuk School.

The free event came with much fanfare as hundreds of Valley residents showed up to enjoy marine creature face painting, sea otter puppet making, and the myriad of wonderful Vancouver Aquarium displays.

The AquaVan delivers aquatic programs featuring live animals, props and activities throughout B.C. and Alberta. This year the Vancouver Aquarium’s “mobile classroom” celebrates B.C.’s Year of Science.

More than 300 participants visited Haahuupayuk’s gymnasium throughout the day, glimpsing a few sea creatures and learning great and gruesome facts about various marine mammals and their habitats.

“I learned that a shark’s jaw is over 10 feet,” Victoria Hall, said about her experience. Other children were fans of the huge turtle shell and constant exclamations of, “fish are cool,” could be heard throughout the day.

Sheldon Unger was happy to share with us the knowledge he gleaned from the team: “Fish have a special slime that protects them,” he proudly proclaimed.

“There was such a great turnout today,” said AquaVan team member Lielani Dallin.

“Everyone who came through today was so genuinely interested and engaged about the work we are doing and about the animals, it was a great day.”

The AquaVan also stopped in Ucluelet on Thursday and will be at the Tofino Community Hall from 1–4 p.m. on Friday, March 25.

Find out more ways individuals and organizations are showing their appreciation for the coastal environment at

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