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A View Into Underwater British Columbia

YVR Airport Exhibit

This colorful, rocky kelp forest is home to a rich collection of marine life native to British Columbia. The Vancouver Aquarium and the Vancouver Airport Authority who manages and operates Vancouver International Airport (YVR), built this 114,000-litre exhibit in 2007 to house more than 20,000 marine plants and animals through a unique partnership.

Both organizations are committed to sustainability, and to supporting the communities they serve locally and globally. This guide helps you identify some of the marine species you might see in the exhibit – scroll down.

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Animals You Will See At The Exhibit

Coho Salmon | Oncorhynchus kisutch

Coho Salmon | Oncorhynchus kisutch

Photo Credit: Phil Edgell

These coho live in British Columbia’s coastal waters. They enter the ocean at about a year old to become silver adults, returning to their birth rivers at around three years old. Look for white gums, a black tongue and black spots on the top half of a coh

Wolf-eel | Anarrhichthys ocellatus

Wolf-eel | Anarrhichthys ocellatus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Look into cracks and crevices, if you’re having trouble finding this fish. Wolf-eels not only mate for life, they are also devoted parents. They coil their bodies around the egg mass with the male protectively surrounding the female that’s coiled around t

Striped seaperch | Embiotoca lateralis

Striped seaperch | Embiotoca lateralis

Photo Credit: Neil Fisher

This fish gives birth to live young. Instead of an umbilical cord, the embryos get nutrients through their fins, which touch their mother’s uterine wall.

Buffalo sculpin | Enoprhys bison

Buffalo sculpin | Enoprhys bison

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Test your “spotting” skills on this fish! This master of camouflage can change its colour patterns to match its background.

Red Irish lord | Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus

Red Irish lord | Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

For a big fish, these sculpins can be amazingly hard to spot. They come in many colours, some even in pink to match the coralline algae on the rocks. Did you find it?

Vermilion rockfish | Sebastes miniatus

Vermilion rockfish | Sebastes miniatus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

This fish can live for at least 60 years, so if you see it as “rock cod” on restaurant menus, do spare a thought to the age of the fish in the dish. Their slow growth, late age at maturity and long life make this and other rockfishes vulnerable to intense

Tiger rockfish | Sebastes nigrocinctus

Tiger rockfish | Sebastes nigrocinctus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Can you find this rockfish? Peek into the cracks and crevices — it tends to wedge itself into them. When you find it, watch how it uses its side (pectoral) fin to prop itself against rocks, when it’s not swimming.

Yelloweye rockfish | Sebastes ruberrimus

Yelloweye rockfish | Sebastes ruberrimus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

This fish loses its white stripes as it ages. How does the fish in the exhibit compare with the photo? It starts having babies at roughly 20 years old – that’s late for a fish. It can live to almost 120 years old.

Canary rockfish | Sebastes pinniger

Canary rockfish | Sebastes pinniger

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Like all rockfishes, canaries give birth to live young. They can live for over 80 years — if they don’t end up on a dinner plate first. A canary rockfish is highly prized in restaurants.

 

Quillback rockfish | Sebastes maliger

Quillback rockfish | Sebastes maliger

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Watch how a rockfish uses its pectoral (side) fins. Their thick and robust nature tell you that they’re used for more than steering and braking.

Yellowtail rockfish | Sebastes flavidus

Yellowtail rockfish | Sebastes flavidus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

It could live as long as 64 years — if it doesn’t end up on our plates first. Rockfishes, such as this yellowtail, are overfished in British Columbia. Ocean Wise research staff are helping to protect them in our local waters.

China rockfish | Sebastes nebulosus

China rockfish | Sebastes nebulosus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

This rockfish is a loner. Its distinct colour patterns probably say “I’m a China rockfish,” and “keep off my turf” to other rockfishes. They also help us identify it.

Deacon rockfish | Sebastes diaconus

Deacon rockfish | Sebastes diaconus

Photo Credit: Meighan Makarchuck

Compare the size of this rockfish’s mouth to other types (species) of rockfishes in this exhibit. Deacon rockfish eat small, drifting animals, including krill, swimming snails, and jellyfishes.

Black rockfish | Sebastes melanops

Black rockfish | Sebastes melanops

Photo Credit: Meighan Makarchuck

Watch where the black rockfish in this exhibit hang out. Scientists found that black rockfish, especially young ones, hide among the small perennial kelp. They move into the kelp beds at night to hide from predators.

Lingcod | Ophiodon elongatus

Lingcod | Ophiodon elongatus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Male lingcod make good mothers — they’re the ones who stay after mating to fan and guard the eggs. The lingcod population in British Columbia’s Georgia Strait is not doing well, except in “no-take” marine protected areas like Whytecliff Park.

Painted greenling | Oxylebius pictus

Painted greenling | Oxylebius pictus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

This fish’s bright stripes break up its outline. How easy was it for you to spot it? Predators might have trouble seeing it too. Its pointy mouth tells you that it can reach into cracks to pull out tasty morsels of shrimps, worms and tiny snails.

Kelp greenling (Female) | Hexagrammos decagrammus

Kelp greenling (Female) | Hexagrammos decagrammus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Compare the colour patterns of a male and female Kelp greenling. Can you see both on exhibit here?

Kelp greenling (Male) | Hexagrammos decagrammus

Kelp greenling (Male) | Hexagrammos decagrammus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Compare the colour patterns of a male and female Kelp greenling. Can you see both on exhibit here?

Pacific sea nettle | Chrysaora fuscescens

Pacific sea nettle | Chrysaora fuscescens

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

This jelly packs a powerful sting if you’re a small fish. It grabs its prey, using tentacles packed with millions of tiny harpoons.

Plumose anemone | Metridium senile

Plumose anemone | Metridium senile

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

If you see tiny blobs beside these sea anemones, you are watching cloning in action! Plumose anemones “make babies” by leaving bits of their bases behind when they move.

Giant plumose anemone Metridium farcimen

Giant plumose anemone Metridium farcimen

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

This sea anemone’s tiny tentacles tell you that it feeds on tiny drifting animals called zooplankton. Its tentacles may be small, but they sting all the same — they’re just too small to hurt people.

Pink-tipped anemone | Anthopleura elegantissima

Pink-tipped anemone | Anthopleura elegantissima

Photo Credit: Phil Edgell

Is the anemone green or white? With enough light, algae can live within this anemone’s tissues to make it look green.

Giant green anemone | Anthopleura xanthogrammica

Giant green anemone | Anthopleura xanthogrammica

Photo Credit: Neil Fisher

In the centre of the sea anemone, surrounded by the tentacles, is its mouth… and its anus. Imagine a bag with tentacles on top — that’s the basic sea anemone.

White-spotted rose anemone | Cribrinopsis albopunctatus

White-spotted rose anemone | Cribrinopsis albopunctatus

Photo Credit: Bernie Hanby

Look for white spots on the trunk of this sea anemone (“ah-ne-moe-nee”) to tell it apart from other local species.

Crimson anemone | Cribrinopsis fernaldi

Crimson anemone | Cribrinopsis fernaldi

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Look closely at this sea anemone’s tentacles — the reddish bands are made up of tiny, stinging cells, called cnidocytes (“nee-do-sites”). They’re good for catching food and for protection.

Painted anemone | Urticina crassicornis

Painted anemone | Urticina crassicornis

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Look for a trunk that’s “painted” red and green – it’s one of the ways you can tell it apart from other local sea anemones. This sea anemone can live to 80 years old.

Rose anemone | Urticina piscivora

Rose anemone | Urticina piscivora

Photo Credit: Phil Edgell

Use its shape and its smooth, red stalk to identify the rose anemone. This sea anemone’s tentacle colour ranges from white to shades of reds. How many colour variations of this sea anemone can you find in this exhibit?

Brooding anemone | Epiactis lisbethae

Brooding anemone | Epiactis lisbethae

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

This anemone “cares” for its young, or at least it allows them to hang out on its column briefly before having to fend for themselves.

Strawberry anemone | Corynactis californica

Strawberry anemone | Corynactis californica

Photo Credit: Bernie Hanby

This anemone reproduces through cloning. You can find the boundary between cloned descendants of different ancestors on a rock by looking for a subtle change in colour.

Orange cup coral | Balanophyllia elegans

Orange cup coral | Balanophyllia elegans

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Peek below the orange polyp to see a glimpse of its hard, white skeleton made of limestone. A disturbed polyp can pull into its skeleton almost completely.

Red turban | Pomaulax gibberosa

Red turban | Pomaulax gibberosa

Photo Credit: Bernie Hanby

If you see this snail on the glass, it may be eating. Look for its rough tongue (radula) scraping algae off the glass. The tire-like tracks in the algae show where it’s been.

Black turban | Chlorostoma funebralis

Black turban | Chlorostoma funebralis

Photo Credit: Phil Edgell

Is that a snail or a crab under this shell? Black turban shells are a favoured home for small hermit crabs.

Leafy hornmouth | Ceratostoma foliatum

Leafy hornmouth | Ceratostoma foliatum

Photo Credit: Bernie Hanby

This snail’s shell has three wings (varices) that when dislodged, help it land so it can flip over easily, avoiding getting eaten. Its rough shell also makes it hard for predators, such as sea stars and crabs, to eat it.

Giant Pacific chiton | Cryptochiton stelleri

Giant Pacific chiton | Cryptochiton stelleri

Photo Credit: Bernie Hanby

This is the largest species of chiton in the world; it can get longer than your foot. Its teeth have so much magnetite that it can be picked up by a magnet.

Black leather chiton | Katharina tunicata

Black leather chiton | Katharina tunicata

Photo Credit: Bernie Hanby

This chiton uses its large, muscular foot to cling tightly to rocks so it doesn’t get washed off by waves. Like other chitons, it can curl into a ball if it gets dislodged.

Giant rock scallop | Crassadoma gigantea

Giant rock scallop | Crassadoma gigantea

Photo Credit: Phil Edgell

Carpeted by sponges and algae, rock scallops are not always easy to spot. To find them, look for a series of tiny “eyes” along their orange mantles.

Bat star | Asterina miniata

Bat star | Asterina miniata

Photo Credit: Bernie Hanby

If you see this sea star against the glass, take a close look at its many tube feet. Each one ends in a suction cup, helping the sea star cling and move.

Red sea urchin | Mesocentrotus franciscanus

Red sea urchin | Mesocentrotus franciscanus

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

If you see an urchin on the glass, try to find five white teeth at the center of its underside. Those teeth are connected to a structure called Aristotle’s lantern.

Purple sea urchin | Strongylocentrotus purpuratus

Purple sea urchin | Strongylocentrotus purpuratus

Photo Credit: Phil Edgell

Meet your evolutionary cousin. DNA studies show that humans and sea urchins share many of the same genes.

Green sea urchin | Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis

Green sea urchin | Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis

Photo Credit: Lee Newman

Sea urchin eggs are served as sushi delicacies in local Japanese restaurants.

Armoured sea cucumber Psolus chitonoides

Armoured sea cucumber Psolus chitonoides

Photo Credit: Phil Edgell

This sea cucumber looks more like a chiton than a sea cucumber. The frilly tentacles in its mouth, and tube feet on its sole do give it away.

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