Aquavan brings ocean life to Trail

BC Rivers Day in Trail invited a special guest this year, the Vancouver Aquarium Aquavan, a mobile education program.

Anson Bell

Anson Bell

It was only fitting on a day highlighting the health of local rivers, that residents were also reminded of the delicate balance with ocean life as well.

The Vancouver Aquarium Aquavan, a mobile education program, rolled into Trail on Sunday in conjunction with BC Rivers Day (see photos on Page 2), bringing with it the opportunity for people to get an up-close and personal encounter with fascinating creatures such as urchins and sea stars.

It’s all part of a program to educate youth on marine life, something the aquarium’s staff takes to heart.

“We basically travel the province teaching kids who might not otherwise get to see the ocean and make that connection to the Coast,” explained Holly Neate of the Vancouver Aquarium Aquavan.

The Aquavan tour of Kootenay schools continues today until Thursday in Rossland before moving on to Nelson and then over to the East Kootenay.

“The program we’re focusing on right now is the Canadian north,” explained Neate. “We’re bringing kids to an area of the world that many of us never get a chance to see.

“We’re trying to bridge that gap of what they’re learning on inland areas and rivers and the oceans. And the links between the two like pollution, climate change.”

One look around the packed room, that attracted over 350 people young and old, proved that there is an interest in marine life. Coupled with the enthusiasm of the traveling staff, and it made for a great exhibition that included numerous hands-on displays.

Staff member Tamara Loney had young people enthralled when she brought out a sea star and offered them the opportunity to lightly touch the the creature’s skin.

Seeing, touching a star

“The kids love that,” said Neate. “We have things you can touch, things you can smell and all kinds of pictures. In the classrooms we can play sounds.

“I’ve been very impressed with how much these kids know,” she added. “We’re hoping they want to find out more and they can check it out at the Vancouver Aquarium website that has live cams and all kinds of interactive stuff.”

The timing of the Aquavan’s visit with Trail’s BC Rivers Day wasn’t lost on the aquarium’s staff.

“We’re so happy to be a part of this,” said Neate. “I’ve was told that every year they’ve been picking up less and less garbage which is such a good sign for the future.”