Alberni Aquarium’s Portia Bernar checks out Donut, the aquarium’s resident red-eared slider turtle, on her final day working at the aquarium before returning to school. Susan Quinn photo / Alberni Valley News

Alberni Aquarium’s Portia Bernar checks out Donut, the aquarium’s resident red-eared slider turtle, on her final day working at the aquarium before returning to school. Susan Quinn photo / Alberni Valley News

Port Alberni’s aquarium re-opens for 2021

Special exhibit features all the creatures — big and small — who live in the Somass Estuary

Port Alberni’s aquarium has opened to the public for the first time in almost a year.

With the 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 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,” says Amber Stroeder, a volunteer with the aquarium and a biology instructor at North Island College. “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.”

A canary rockfish swims around a tank with its fishy mates at the Alberni Aquarium. The aquarium has reopened for weekend hours. Susan Quinn photo / Alberni Valley News

A canary rockfish swims around a tank with its fishy mates at the Alberni Aquarium. The aquarium has reopened for weekend hours. Susan Quinn photo / Alberni Valley News

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,” Stroeder says.

For current opening hours, admission details and more information, visit alberniaquarium.ca.

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