Ancient Oceans exhibit awes at Ucluelet Aquarium

The Ucluelet Aquarium has brought an impressive sampling of Vancouver Island’s ancient and awe-inspiring oceanic treasures to the West Coast’s locals and visitors. 

An Ancient Oceans exhibit kicked off last week and brought a supplemental change-of-pace to the unique catch-and-release aquatic specimens who call the aquarium home.

The new exhibit includes an array of fascinating and educational pieces including a  massive megalodon tooth and an elasmosaurus skull, which have become early favourites amongst the aquarium’s younger patrons.

“There’s been a lot of excitement,” said aquarium curator Laura Griffith-Cochrane.

 â€œThere’s a lot of really cool things to talk about.”

Griffith-Cochrane said Vancouver Island’s soil proved to be rich preservation-grounds for rare octopus and squid fossils including the “ancient and beautiful vampire squid fossils,” that have quickly become a popular piece of her new exhibit.

“Vancouver Island is just a really incredible space; it was underwater for a long time and it’s got a lot of amazing marine fossils so we’re really excited to showcase them,” she said.

“When we started to put together this exhibit, we wanted to showcase Vancouver Island as much as possible, especially the West Coast.”

The exhibit features fossils of crabs that lived in Hesquiaht roughly 50 million years ago.

“The amazing thing is how similar they look (to today’s crabs),” Griffith-Cochrane said. “Crabs have not changed very much; they’re really, really, cool.”

Other species on display have changed drastically over time or become extinct altogether.

 â€œIt’s pretty amazing to showcase, not just what we have now, but what we’ve had in the past,” Griffith-Cochrane said. “There’s so many species that you look at and would be so amazing if we could still have them today. They look so cool.”

Along with the solid wow-factor within the exhibit, Griffith-Cochrane said it has also brought an extra boost of educational opportunities.

 â€œThere’s a lot that we’ve learned about species from how they’ve changed overtime and what the ocean used to be like….It teaches us a lot about our current ocean systems and how change can affect things,” she said.

“When you look at different changes that happened in the ocean and what species survived, you can hypothesize why they might have survived and, maybe, what will happen as our oceans change.”

The exhibit will include special kids days where young ocean enthusiasts can learn about how fossils are collected. 

“We’re going to teach kids how they would, if they were a paleontologist, gather information out in the field,” Griffith-Cochrane said. “We’ll have lots of fun activities for them.”

The Ancient Oceans exhibit will run through to the end of June and oceanic enthusiasts are encouraged to follow the aquarium’s Facebook and Twitter pages for updates on what’s in store.

 

reporter@westerlynews.ca