The Famous Van City Aquarium

Stanley_Park_AquariumOnce again my marine science class was on another field trip.  We spent our day at the Vancouver Aquarium.  I seen all kinds of animals from cetaceans to reptiles.

Even African Penguins were there.  Yes AFRICAN penguins.  They some how amazed me.  Here is the thing, I always thought penguins are only found in the South Pole, not in Africa.

penguinThe African Penguins or Spheniscus demersus is the only well known species of penguin to live along the southern coasts of Africa. They are found in colonies on islands and on the costal mainland from Namibia to South Africa.  Theses creatures are also called “black-footed” penguin (due to their feet) and “jackass” penguin (due to their donkey-like call).

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Look at the picture above.  What are the pink patches above their eyes?
Those are actually their bare skins that turn pink when get hot.  This is one of the way for them to cool off. African Penguins must be able to cope with both cooling down on land and keeping warm in water as they live in sub-tropical climates.

Not only unique animals that the aquarium have, they also have really good facilities like marine mammal rescue.  This is one of their programs that I am interested in.

This video got me wondered about the program.

Marine Mammal Rescue centre at Vancouver Aquarium is the only organization in Canada that exclusively treats marine animals.   The team is simply on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to rescue the aquatic organisms found in distress in British Columbia.  The facility provide housing and care for ill, injured and abandoned marine mammals until they are ready to be put back into their natural habitats.  After rehabilitation, the rescue centre works with Fisheries and Ocean Canada (a government agency), which make the final decision on weather the animals can be release into local waters.

They have both indoor and out door space for the patients to recover.  Indoor space include food preparation areas, a laboratory, a pharmacy, an examination room and a recovery area.  Out door facilities consist of varieties of holding tubs and pools to suit different sizes and species of marine animals.  New arrival or sick animals are kept separated from the healthy ones.  Marine mammals arriving at the aquarium may be infected by bacteria, virus or parasites. Therefore, they are placed in quarantine for at least 14 days.

If you had a chance to visit Van City, I recommended the aquarium to be one of your attractions stop.
Cheers!

Seasonality

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About two months ago my marine science class went for a tour behind our school.  It has been a week since we revisited the sites after summer has passed.  There were some dramatic changes near the lake and in the forest.  Seems like the water level has rises.  The surroundings are more moist, yet the trees are drying out.  Their leaves have start to fall. 1460267_10200543886789072_1907520082_n
In the forest, the sun is lower in the sky causes shade area to shifted.   The good old Douglas-fern tree looks like it is thirst for water. There are also maple leaves all over the forest.  Vegetation of mushrooms also increases.

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During autumn or winter, there are less sunlight and water for plants to use in photosynthesis.  After they had shut down their food-making factories, they will use the energy that they have stored in summer.  Tress need to ‘sweat’ constantly in order to survive through cold weather. Loosing their leaves decrease the amount of space for them to ‘sweat.’

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the specialized cells are stained red and mark the boundary between the branch (left) and leaf stalk

Therefore, hormones in tress trigger the process of abscission where their leaves are being cut-off by specialized cells.  The green chlorophyll start to disappear as the pigments are broken down for nutrients.   This is one of the reason why the colour yellow, orange, red and gold start to show.  When the leaves has been shed at the end of abscission progress, a protective layer of cells grows over the exposed area.

Shedding may also help wit their pollination when spring comes.  With leaves getting in the way, wind-blow pollen can travel longer distance and reach more tress.