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“Still talk about it”

Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
Ranked #3 of 28 things to do in Sidney
Certificate of Excellence
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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
Reviewed November 7, 2013

Firstly, apologies for a lengthy delay (over a year - oops!) in posting a review on your delightful aquarium. As other reviews have said, it's not the biggest, flashiest fishy place ever but what it lacks in size it makes up for it in many other ways. The staff on duty when we were with you were very knowledgeable and didn't seem to mind the daft questions fired at them left, right and centre! To be honest we thought we would just pop in to kill an hour but ended up staying nearly 4 hours and loved every minute of it. Our group consisted 2 adults (45yrs+) a 24 yr old and 2 teenagers and we absolutely loved the opportunity to get to see, touch and learn about some of the marine life that makes the waters around Sidney their home. Visiting you inspired us to try Scuba diving when we returned to the UK and a year on we're now PADI Advanced divers and are looking to arrange a diving trip to Vancouver Island next year to introduce ourselves to your critters in their natural habitats - and call in and see you again! Thank You Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre for opening up the other 70% of this wonderful planet to us xx

Thank Beki 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 reviewResponded January 15, 2014

Hi Beki M,

No offence to any other amazing reviewers who have sung our praises over the years, but your post about your visit to our aquarium is definitely our absolute favourite! First of all, thank you for visiting us and enjoying the aquarium SO much...four hours much, to be exact! It's thrilling to know that you made such a huge connection with the underwater world of the Salish Sea and with our Oceaneers, that is exactly what we're here to help people do. And the fact that you started diving and are PADI Advanced certified as a result, well, we're glowing with pride. Your story is our absolute best case scenario of what happens after people come and see us...thank you for sharing!

We can't wait for your return to Vancouver Island. If you find yourself with some time ABOVE the water line, please come in to see us again!

Sincerely,

Everyone here at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

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Write a ReviewReviews (304)
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"sea life"
in 43 reviews
"touch tank"
in 15 reviews
"small aquarium"
in 11 reviews
"wolf eels"
in 8 reviews
"small facility"
in 3 reviews
"big tanks"
in 3 reviews
"sea cucumbers"
in 4 reviews
"local aquarium"
in 4 reviews
"great aquarium"
in 3 reviews
"fantastic gift shop"
in 3 reviews
"all ages"
in 19 reviews
"great place for children"
in 3 reviews
"knowledgeable volunteers"
in 3 reviews
"kids and adults"
in 6 reviews
"interactive displays"
in 4 reviews
"answer questions"
in 4 reviews
"creatures"
in 31 reviews
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190 - 194 of 304 reviews

Reviewed October 21, 2013

A fun way to spend an hour or two exploring what's in the ocean around us. It is really well laid out with lots of informed and helpful staff. The sea stars, jelly fish, and other sea life were so colourful. Too bad the octopus was sleeping. The touching ponds at the end were neat.

Thank Terry 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 reviewResponded January 15, 2014

Hi Terry M,

Thank you so much for visiting us here at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre! We're glad you came in to explore our exhibits and see all of the flora and fauna our Salish Sea has to offer. Many people think that only tropical waters have such vibrant colours...clearly not true!

We are sorry to hear that our octopus was having a snooze while you were here, though. They often need a nap after their meals...and who can blame them? In our opinion, the world would be a better place if everyone had a nap allowance after lunch. We hope you'll come back again when our Giant Pacific Octopus is awake! You may even get to see one open a jar while you're here, as we often put crabs inside as our way of feeding them (they're highly intelligent creatures and need challenges to keep their mind fit...and it's cool!).

Thank you again for coming by and for your lovely review of your experience!

Sincerely,

Everyone (including a sleepy octopus) at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

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Reviewed October 7, 2013 via mobile

This is a very small aquarium, and as such, should not be so over-priced. It is over almost as soon as it has begun. The staff was mildly interested in the guests, and even then, only grudgingly. The gift shop staff seemed more interested in the view outside than the customers inside.

1  Thank Kreenish
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 reviewResponded January 14, 2014

Hi Kreenish,

Thank you for stopping by the aquarium, though it sounds like you had a less than stellar time. We usually get rave reviews on how engaged and helpful our Oceaneers are in guiding guests through the Centre...I hope you'll come back and give us another chance to impress!

As for the cost, we're a not-for-profit education facility and as such, our admission prices are set as low as humanly (or fishily?) possible in order to maintain the quality of our facility, keep the lights on, and (most importantly) feed and care for our animals! Compared to the cost of a movie, we're quite competitive, the money goes to our educational programming (some may argue it's a "good cause") AND you can learn something neat about the ocean. Not many films can boast such a result...all you get from movie theatres are butter stains on your pants. Not an issue here! We also have a great Annual Pass option that many people take us up on...it pays for itself in two visits! Easily done if you consider how often it rains here, and especially if you attend more than one of our lectures a year (free w/ an Annual Pass).

We hope you'll try us again and see that our Oceaneers are keen and ready to help!

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Everyone at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre (including the one who was looking out the window...we're certain he/she is sorry)

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Reviewed September 14, 2013

Small but the octopus was awesome. Great for younger kids with lots of hands on stuff. Not really an adult thing. Would have got a two except the octopus was really neat.

Thank Lisa G
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 reviewResponded January 14, 2014

Hi Lisa G.,

Thank you so much for visiting the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre! We're thrilled that you came by for a visit and enjoyed your time spent with Mo, the Giant Pacific Octopus. As a not-for-profit aquarium and marine education facility, every person who pays admission supports us in offering a first hand and educational look of the Salish Sea...so thank you for that as well!

As for the aquarium only being good for kids, we'll have to agree to disagree with you there. We hear more squeals (of delight...always of delight!) coming from the touch pool area when there's a group of adults touching urchin and sculpins than when there are kids. We also have great opportunities for adult education, like our weekly Senior Sessions program that takes place every Thursday. You're never too old or too young to learn about the Salish Sea! Our volunteer Oceaneers are also standing by to answer questions and tell our visitors stories about the animals in our exhibits. Adults tell us that they love getting in depth and up close, taking their time to look at all of the intricacies of the ecosystem at work. The kids? Well, they're usually running from exhibit to exhibit counting sea stars and "wow-ing" over jellies and wolf eels. Either way, everyone's getting what they need out of the visit.

Thank you again for coming by and introducing yourself to our octopus! We hope you'll come by for a more "adult" experience next time. Um, that actually sounds a little X-rated, not our intent. You know what we mean.

Thanks again!

Sincerely,

Everyone at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

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Reviewed September 5, 2013 via mobile

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre gives value to your experience with learning about the sea a priority that goes hand in hand with fun for the whole family!

Thank SidneyHotel
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 reviewResponded September 20, 2013

Well hello there SidneyHotel,

Thank you so much for your wonderful review! You've been a such a great supporter of the aquarium in so many ways, we appreciate you taking the time to put your comments down in writing as well!

We think that one of the best things about being in Sidney is being surrounded by world-class businesses run by wonderful people who support one another. We're one lucky town. Here at the aquarium, our volunteers and staff members work very hard to provide the highest caliber experience possible...something that we hope makes our fellow Sidney-ites proud...so, it's nice to hear from a neighbor that they believe we're accomplishing that.

We'd like to also thank you for summing up perfectly what we offer our visitors: educational fun. Or is it fun education? Either way, that's our purpose; to amaze, to excite, and to teach visitors about the amazing and diverse ocean we have in our own backyard. The creatures you find when you take a close look at our exhibits (or when an Oceaneer points them out to you!) are remarkable. We feel honored to be THE place on Vancouver Island that people come to see the...sea (had to do it).

Thank you again SidneyHotel! I'm sure we'll be sea-ing you again soon (had to do that one too).

Sincerely,

Everyone at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

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