I'm glad to report that I spent this weekend relaxing and enjoying some free time. Yesterday I took myself to the Vancouver Aquarium for a few hours.
At first I was a little apprehensive about going by myself, but I was quick to realize it was probably for the best. You see, I'm not that interested in the animals that most people are there to see. I can't stand to watch captive seals or dolphins (however, I give the Vancouver Aquarium credit because all their marine mammals are rescued animals that couldn't be released). What I really love are the invertebrates, and I think I might have annoyed someone by spending 15 minutes looking at the jellyfish.
Here is a small sample of the pictures I took:
A couple of sea anemones and two starfish are in the center of this photo. All of the light blue and red tuffs you see along the bottom of the tank are also younger anemones.
I've unfortunately lost the names for these two fish. I think the black fish is some type of rockfish. Both are native to the Pacific Ocean here in British Columbia.
A few starfish in the foreground and a stem of swaying kelp in the background.
This little guy is a roughskin newt. They are semi-aquatic and need to come up and get a breath of air occasionally.
A closeup of some frilled sea anenomes. Aren't they gorgeous? Can you believe that this isn't a plant, but a predatory animal? Those little "hairs" you see are filled with nerves and will actually release a toxic sting when touched. Using this sting they catch and eat small invertebrates and larvae.
And I've saved my favorite photos for last: the jellyfish. I was actually stung as a teenager by a jellyfish – and I still have the scar – but that hasn't changed my opinion of these animals. I don't know about you guys, but watching jellyfish gives me a sense of awe.
Japanese sea nettles
Lion's mane jellyfish
Fried egg jellyfish
Fried egg jellyfish
I also spent a fair bit of time trying to get a picture of some sea gooseberries that were in a small tank. Unfortunately, they're tiny and move so quickly that the macro setting on my camera couldn't do them justice without a tripod.
Sea gooseberries are a type of comb jellyfish, and move using the cilia (little hairs) on their body. Light gets refracted off of the moving cilia, which creates the most beautiful rainbow colors as they move about. In the picture above, you can see the two tentacles that drift through the water and catch prey.
If you're interested in seeing how comb jellyfish refract light, this is a great video from the Vancouver Aquarium's Youtube channel. I wouldn't hesitate to say these animals are awe-inspiring.
Well, that's all I have to share for today. I hope I haven't overloaded anyone with photos or information! I just get so excited about these things because it's what I love and studied during my undergrad. It's a great feeling to get back in touch with these things.