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“Very disappointing” 1 of 5 bubbles
Review of Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
Ranked #3 of 25 things to do in Sidney
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Explore the mysteries of the Salish Sea Bioregion - one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world! The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is an aquarium and cultural centre for the learning, exploration, and conservation of the Salish Sea. The Salish Sea is named after the Canadian Indigenous Peoples of the region, the Coast Salish. Experience natural aquaria habitats of over 160 live species including a giant pacific octopus and wolf eels; a marine mammal exhibit complete with a rare orca skeleton; and experience the art and culture of the Coast Salish peoples on permanent exhibit. Journey from seafloor to seashore and discover the amazing diversity of the Salish Sea. Peer into 28 aquarium habitats teeming with live marine life from anemones to jelly fish to rockfish and experience the animals first hand in our Touch Pool room overlooking the Salish Sea.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Sidney, Canada
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
“Very disappointing”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 5, 2012

I found it very disappointing and not much to see especially after the admission price. I took my granddaughter, I would definitely not go again.

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
Thank Deborah M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanDiscovery, Public Relations Manager at Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, responded to this review, September 7, 2012
Hi Deborah M!

I am so sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your experience at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. We want every person who walks through the submarine doors to be inspired by our exhibits, so when someone is disappointed with us, we take it to heart.

As a not-for-profit facility, we rely heavily on admission sales to keep our Centre up to the highest standards. We keep the price of our day pass as low as possible while still being able to maintain our educational programming, keep our animals healthy and happy, and provide an engaging experience for our visitors to enjoy.

It is true that we do not offer an animal "show" like larger aquariums do, we have a more intimate setting that focuses on authentic ocean seascapes.Our Centre is designed to encourage visitors to explore all aspects of our local Salish Sea, big and small, which is why several of our exhibits highlight intricacies that can at times be overlooked. Did you have a chance to engage with one of our volunteer Oceaneers? They are always on hand to point out fascinating critters who may be in the middle of a game of hide-and-seek!

We welcome your feedback, and are always looking for ways to enhance our visitor experience. If you would like to contact me directly, I would love to hear further comments or suggestions on how your time with us could have been improved.

Thank you!
Christina Smethurst
Innovations Advancement
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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261 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Victoria, Canada
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 attraction reviews
“Fun Place to take kids with very helpful staff”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 1, 2012

I'd heard mixed reviews about this aquarium since it had opened, which is a couple of years ago now, I think. I went there with a 7 year old boy for whom I'd been doing respite work this summer. We found a parking spot quite easily in their underground parking and made our way up to the aquarium. The little boy I was working with has Autism, so I asked the cashier if they provided any discount for caregivers of people with special needs. She explained that his mother could apply for a leisure pass, but that she would let me in for free anyway. That's a great relief for parents who were already paying me by the hour, and I was impressed with how accommodating the woman was.

We made our way into the elevator, which is designed to look, sound and feel like you're in a submarine. Very cool. (we ended up taking it again at the very end just for fun!) As we entered the main part of the aquarium there were lots of staff to greet us and some hands-on activity for children as well as tanks of colorful fish and other sea creatures.

The aquarium really didn't take long for us to get through, but there was lots to see and we could have taken more time to discover all of the sea life in each tank. The last part of the aquarium is the hands-on portion, and the older gentleman in charge of that area was very kind and patient with the little boy I'd brought, who was determined not to get his hands wet. Within a few minutes the man had him putting his hands in there to pet a sea cucumber!

We weren't there to shop, but I found that the gift store had a fairly nice selection. We went in there to get an annual pass for the little guy so that he could come back in the future with other caregivers or his family.

The only reason that I didn't give it 5 stars is that for the length of time it takes to get through, I think the admission prices are a bit expensive. If a family of four were to go in, they'd be paying a lot. I think it's worthwhile to pay a bit extra for an annual pass and then just make a point of returning. I will definitely return there in the future!

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
Thank VicGirl77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanDiscovery, Public Relations Manager at Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, responded to this review, September 4, 2012
Hi VicGirl77!

We are so pleased to hear that you enjoyed visiting the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre! Your review put a smile on my face. The purpose of our aquarium is to give everyone the chance to explore the depths of the Salish Sea, and to see the intricacies that exist in its delicate ecosystem. And you're right, the submarine is pretty cool too!

You may be surprised to know that most of the staff at the Centre are actually volunteers, or Oceaneers as we call them. We're so glad that you found them helpful and accomodating!

Further to your experience with us, we really appreciate you pointing out the fact that our annual pass has such great value...we can't help but agree. As a not-for-profit organization, we rely on admissions sales to keep the operation of our Centre in top shape, so we try to keep the prices as low as possible while still maintaining the integrity of our facility. We view the annual pass as a great compromise!

We look forward to your return to the aquarium...the submarine will be waiting for you!

Sincerely,
Christina Smethurs
Innovations Advancement
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Level Contributor
23 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“For The Kids”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 31, 2012

This is more for children and it is good for them. Not much for the adults but again great for the youngsters.

Helpful?
Thank David M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanDiscovery, Public Relations Manager at Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, responded to this review, September 4, 2012
Hi David M!

Thank you for your review! It is true that we offer many activities in our aquarium for children and young adults, but we also strive to engage adults as well. Our purpose as a not-for-profit marine education Centre is to encourage all visitors, young and old, to examine the amazing ocean life that exists right at our doorstep in the Salish Sea! Our hope is that after engaging with our exhibits, visitors will be inclined to take steps in their daily lives to help preserve our ocean and protect the animals that call the Salish Sea their home.

I would love to hear from you directly to find out more about your experience with us, and some areas that you think we can improve. I'd also like to have the chance to tell you about the adult programming we offer through the Centre that may be of interest to you!

Thank you again for visiting the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, and for your comments on your time with us.

Sincerely,

Christina Smethurst
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
76 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“An Expensive Half Hour Diversion”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 31, 2012

We had been in Sydney the year they were constructing this attraction, and as a result we went out of our way to take our kids here. We thought it would be a great experience for them.

Well, first of all, it cost us over $50 to get my wife and I, my 11 year old daughter, and my two sons (9 and 6) into the place. The elevator to get in to the aquarium was neat and had us thinking we were going to have a good experience. That is about as good as it got.

Inside there were a lot of fish, but instead of placing signs telling you what you were looking at, they had signs telling us to refer to page # whatever in the program which could be purchased at reception. For fifty plus bucks I thought they could have thrown in the program, OR just put up a sign like every other place on the planet. There was a lot of staff present, and if you asked them questions they seemed very happy to help.

The whole thing took about a half hour to go through and was not worth the money. Better to pay a little more and go to the Vancouver Aquarium I think.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Xuthl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanDiscovery, Public Relations Manager at Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, responded to this review, September 3, 2012
Hi Xuthl!

I'm so sorry to hear that your visit to the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre was not up to your expectations. It is true that as an education-based not-for-profit facility, we offer a more intimate setting than what you'll find at larger aquariums. In keeping with our friendly feel, we have volunteer Oceaneers on hand to explain the exhibits rather than having signage throughout the Centre. We do offer guidebooks as an option, but do not see them as a requirement in order to enjoy the experience. We apologize if you felt that your time with us was lacking as a result.

As for our pricing, that too is a reflection of our status as a charity. We rely on admissions revenue in order to operate the aquarium, which includes educational programming and caring for the animals you see displayed. We appreciate every cent that our visitors spend to tour the Centre, and want everyone who walks through to feel that it was worthwhile.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly so that we can talk further regarding your experience with us. We learn a great deal from visitor feedback, and are always looking for ways that we can improve!

Sincerely,

Christina Smethurst
Innovations Advancement
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria
Level Contributor
31 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Good for smaller children”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 29, 2012

Great for smaller children. The centre is not very large and you can tour it very quickly. Kids though love the touch pool and various hands on exhibits.

Visited March 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank posemuckl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanDiscovery, Public Relations Manager at Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, responded to this review, September 6, 2012
Hi Christina K!

I love your name, by the way...(see below). Thank you so much for visiting the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, and for taking the time to give us a review. It is true that our aquarium is a fantastic place for children to explore and discover the wonderful creatures that reside in our Salish Sea, but we like to think of ourselves as a place that welcomes people of all ages as well! We have a multitude of programming geared toward our adult crowd, inclulding a very popular lecture series offered after hours once per month.

We believe that everyone...children, teenagers, adults, grandparents, uncles, second cousins...can be inspired by the exhibits they see while visiting our Centre. It is through that inspiration that people will be driven to learn more about the marine ecosystem, and what can be done to love and protect it.

Thank you again for supporting our not-for-profit aquarium. We are always looking for ways that we can improve our visitor experience, so if you have further comments or suggestions, I would love to hear them! Please contact me directly to have a chat!

Sincerely,
Christina Smethurst
Innovations Advancement
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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