The Ucluelet Aquarium has officially kicked off its 2020 season as the doors swung open to a stream of eager ocean animal fans on Sunday.
Two of the first people through the unique catch and release facility’s doors on opening day were Peter and Marlene Lewis, who split their time between Victoria and Cedar and count the Ucluelet Aquarium among their favourite Vancouver Island attractions.
“It’s fabulous,” Peter told the Westerly News. “This really shows what kind of life we have on the West Coast. A lot of people don’t know what’s in the ocean. This really shows it all. The best education that you could have is right here.”
Marlene added that she enjoys experiencing the aquarium’s touch tank exhibits and admires the facility’s catch and release model and environmental sustainability focus.
“It’s a very unique aquarium. It’s unlike any other aquarium I’ve seen anywhere in the world,” she said. “We love it…Our family is here visiting from Winnipeg, so we made sure we brought them here.”
Rudy Wiebe of Winnipeg was ecstatic to be introduced to the aquarium.
“This is the first time I’ve been here and I’m absolutely amazed. It’s wonderful to see all this stuff,” he said. “Being from the prairies, you don’t get to see the ocean to begin with, but to know this is all alive under here is absolutely amazing.”
Carolyne Wiebe said it was the first time she and Rudy had visited “the actual Pacific Coast” and the aquarium was the perfect complement to their Ucluelet experience.
“We’ve been to Vancouver and we’ve been to Victoria, but we’re always looking at the strait and not the actual Pacific Coast. [Rudy] has always wanted to see the Pacific Coast, so that’s why we’re here.”
She added she was impressed to find such a captivating facility in a small town like Ucluelet.
“You get to experience all these things up close,” she said. “This is a small town and I think it’s amazing when small towns do something that shows, in this case, their environment. We’ve got small towns in Manitoba that have museums that show their heritage and their culture and they’re always exciting places. You always think, ‘Small town, what can they have?’ But, people with some foresight and energy put something like this together. You’re not going to see this anywhere else.”