Aquavan brings sea life to students

The Vancouver Aquarium’s mobile classroom, Aquavan, was at the school all day.

Perley students (from left) Lucas Davies

Perley Elementary School students got the chance to see aquatic life up close on Earth Day Wednesday (April 22). The Vancouver Aquarium’s mobile classroom, Aquavan, was at the school all day and students got to hear presentations and get a close look at many sea creatures.

The program featured four educators presenting to all the students about aquatics featuring live animals, artifacts and activities. The intention of the program is to inspire young Canadians to build connections with aquatic life so they can become stewards of their environment.

Among the live invertebrates the students got to see and, in some cases touch, were: heart crab, green sea urchin, painted sea anemone, leather sea star, Bering hermit crab, leafy hornmouth snail and wrinkled dogwinkle snail. The kids also got to see whale bones and baleen.

The Perley PAC sponsored the event.

Tobi Reid, Aquavan coordinator, said the students from Perley were very engaged and asked lots of great questions. “It’s been a great reception. It’s really great and rewarding for us to bring the ocean to landlocked communities and make connections between these communities and the ocean. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to bring some live animals from the coast.”

Reid said it was very promising that the students asked about how they could best protect the sea creatures.

Perley was the only stop for the Aquavan in the Kootenay Boundary. Since 1994, over 400,000 students and community members have shared up close and personal experiences with live aquatic animals using the Aquavan.

Grade 7 students Lucas Wodyga and Ethan Lovegrove enjoyed the experience of seeing and learning about the various sea creatures.

“I thought the display was quite nice, especially on Earth Day,” said Wodyga. “It was quite an awesome display seeing the sea urchins and other sea creatures.”

Wodyga said he is disappointed that humans have made such a mess of the oceans such that much sea life is threatened.

Lovegrove said he liked hearing the presentations and learning about the sea. “I think they did a very good job at the display and the descriptions,” he said.

Wodyga’s favourite part was seeing the whale teeth and bones. “I didn’t know they had just bristles and not teeth,” he said. “It was pretty cool.”

He also enjoyed seeing and touching the sea creatures, which he felt were “slimy and hard, which was really cool.”

“It was weird too because I hadn’t seen those creatures before,” he added.