Young Ucluelet local Meadow Anderson clings to her dad Jeff’s hand and she checks out one of the Ucluelet Aquarium’s touch tanks during the facility’s last day of the season on Nov. 30. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Young Ucluelet local Meadow Anderson clings to her dad Jeff’s hand and she checks out one of the Ucluelet Aquarium’s touch tanks during the facility’s last day of the season on Nov. 30. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Ucluelet Aquarium wraps up season with release day event

Residents help release charismatic critters on Dec. 7.

Thousands of charismatic ocean creatures are heading home after spending the past several months entertaining and educating their delighted fans at the Ucluelet Aquarium.

The aquarium wrapped up its season on Nov. 30 and many of the animals it showcased in exhibits designed to inspire respect for ocean habitats have already been released, with the remaining critters waiting for Dec. 7’s public release day to celebrate their homecoming.

READ MORE: Ucluelet Aquarium swings open new season

Aquarium curator Laura Griffith Cochrane is excited to invite residents and visitors to the aquarium’s popular release day event on Saturday where participants will get one last chance to see their favourite animals as they bring a container to carry critters from the aquarium to the Whiskey Dock and wave goodbye after setting them free.

“I think that the act of returning an animal to the wild reminds us that that animal is there and it’s part of that ecosystem and it’s important for us to make sure that we’re acting in a way always that protects that animal’s home, so that we can continue whatever activities we do in that area, whether it’s recreational fishing or surfing or snorkeling or free-diving and that there is beautiful things for us to return to,” Griffith Cochrane told the Westerly. “Although, in an ideal world, we would all just naturally behave really well and have that relationship really ingrained in our systems, I think that sometimes we need reminders. It’s easy sometimes to lose sight of how interconnected we are with ecosystems and with the world around us and it’s important to have those moments to reflect and to remind ourselves that whatever we do reflects the world around us and we’re part of the whole thing.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Ucluelet Aquarium surveying migration of microplastics

The unique catch-and-release aquarium runs from March to December and consistently releases more animals than it collects as babies are born and new animals arrive through the facility’s water system.

“We get a lot of animals that arrive here in their planktonic stages and then settle and grow into their adult forms, so we always release more animals than we collect and we see a lot of change within our exhibits throughout the season,” she said.

All animals are returned to where they were collected from and are released throughout the season, with two large releases being done in the summer and winter.

“For best animal care practices, it is better for some animals to be exchanged in the summer months and it’s better for some to be exchanged in the winter,” she explained. “It really depends on the species, the habitat that they will be going back to and it depends on what’s going on in here. For example, sometimes fish give birth to live young in the aquarium and we prefer to release them mid-summer because that gives them a little bit of time to really develop.”

While a variety of releases are conducted throughout the West Coast, only the Whiskey Dock release is open to the public.

“We’re part of the Ucluelet community so, whenever we can, we like to involve everyone so that they can be part of our operations,” she said.

“There are a number of sites that we go to on our own time…Those places involve the release of very sensitive species, so we have to be 100% focused on the well being of that animal. Because we all really like the people in our community, we can be distracted by wanting to provide good interpretation. So, if we really need to focus on that one spot, we just focus on that one spot.”

READ MORE: Ucluelet Aquarium model spawning inspiration worldwide

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni received some good news about an expansion to its emergency department on Jan. 15, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

A Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation guardian took this photo of dozens of vehicles parked along a forest service road in the Kennedy watershed. (Submitted photo)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District looks at enforcement of illegal camping

ACRD currently does not have an existing bylaw service to tackle the issue

Ucluelet local Geoff Johnson snapped this photo of a Risso’s dolphin that washed up near Chesterman Beach in Tofino on Wednesday, Jan. 13. (Geoff Johnson photo)
Washed up Risso’s dolphin offers glimpse into “whole other world” near Tofino

“It’s like a UFO crash landed and you can come look at it.”

(B.C. government)
POLL QUESTION: Would you report a neighbour in breach of COVID-19 regulations?

Would you report a neighbour in breach of COVID-19 regulations? READ MORE:… Continue reading

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Most Read