Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium #FamilyTravel

We always like to take advantage of opportunities for learning when we travel. Learning about different cultures, trying different foods, exploring history, or getting an education in the local ecosystem. When I bring the family to my home province, Newfoundland, I have a tendency to focus on teaching them about the local flora and fauna I grew up with, and I especially love for them to learn about the ocean and the incredible creatures who dwell there.

The Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium is a great resource, just minutes from downtown St. John's, where families can get up close and personal with a great variety of our sea-dwelling North Atlantic neighbours. And these creatures are truly neighbours - they are collected from the waters just off the coast of Petty Harbour, and returned to those same waters once the season is over.

The aquarium is aptly named, as it is quite small at only 800 square feet. But that room includes four small touch tanks filled with sea stars, sun stars, hermit crabs, spider crabs, sea cucumbers, and more, plus 30 exhibits of other sea life. Jellyfish, sculpin, sea ravens, lobsters (we saw a blue one and a gold one), scallops, lump fish, pout fish, flounder, and of course the famous North Atlantic cod.

I love the colour of this guy,
The Sea Raven is one of my favourites. Where else would you see this specimen?
Mr. Cod came to say hello. I don't think he was pleased when I called him "Supper."
This little sea star is in one of the touch tanks. He's currently working on growing back 3 of his 5 arms.
Did you know they could do that?
The exhibits come with interpretive information, allowing you to read about the life and habits of each animal. Plus there are enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff available to answer any questions you may have. There is also a microscope station where Boo thoroughly enjoyed the close-ups, and the Mini-Aquarium is available for birthday parties and school bookings, aligned with curriculum. The interpreters also run daily and weekly special programs. We saw a squid dissection, for instance. You can check the website for details.

When we visited this year, my Dad came along, using his cane. There was accessible parking readily available right by the door and he found no trouble navigating the exhibits. I don't think a stroller or wheelchair would be as easy, but you could do it with a walker.

The Mini-Aquarium is located at 35 Southside Rd., Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, and is open 10 am - 6 pm daily, from June to October. Once they shut down for the season, they carefully release all of their animals back into the ocean where they were originally found. The community can even get involved in the release program, which would be amazing for the kids.

Admission in 2015 is Adults $8, Children $5, Seniors $6. Children under 5 are admitted free. You can also buy a family day pass for $20 which covers 2 adults and up to 3 children. They accept cash, debit, Visa and Mastercard, and have washrooms on site. I would suggest you plan for a visit of roughly one hour.

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