The Ucluelet Aquarium has brought an impressive sampling of Vancouver Islandâ€™s ancient and awe-inspiring oceanic treasures to the West Coastâ€™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 aquariumâ€™s younger patrons.
â€œThereâ€™s been a lot of excitement,â€ said aquarium curator Laura Griffith-Cochrane.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot of really cool things to talk about.â€
Griffith-Cochrane said Vancouver Islandâ€™s soil proved to be rich preservation-grounds for rare octopus and squid fossils including the â€œancient and beautiful vampire squid fossils,â€ that have quickly become a popular piece of her new exhibit.
â€œVancouver Island is just a really incredible space; it was underwater for a long time and itâ€™s got a lot of amazing marine fossils so weâ€™re really excited to showcase them,â€ she said.
â€œWhen we started to put together this exhibit, we wanted to showcase Vancouver Island as much as possible, especially the West Coast.â€
The exhibit features fossils of crabs that lived in Hesquiaht roughly 50 million years ago.
â€œThe amazing thing is how similar they look (to todayâ€™s crabs),â€ Griffith-Cochrane said. â€œCrabs have not changed very much; theyâ€™re really, really, cool.â€
Other species on display have changed drastically over time or become extinct altogether.
â€œItâ€™s pretty amazing to showcase, not just what we have now, but what weâ€™ve had in the past,â€ Griffith-Cochrane said. â€œThereâ€™s so many species that you look at and would be so amazing if we could still have them today. They look so cool.â€
Along with the solid wow-factor within the exhibit, Griffith-Cochrane said it has also brought an extra boost of educational opportunities.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot that weâ€™ve learned about species from how theyâ€™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,â€ she said.
â€œWhen 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.â€
The exhibit will include special kids days where young ocean enthusiasts can learn about how fossils are collected.
â€œWeâ€™re going to teach kids how they would, if they were a paleontologist, gather information out in the field,â€ Griffith-Cochrane said. â€œWeâ€™ll have lots of fun activities for them.â€
The Ancient Oceans exhibit will run through to the end of June and oceanic enthusiasts are encouraged to follow the aquariumâ€™s Facebook and Twitter pages for updates on whatâ€™s in store.