sea otters and jellyfish

Sea otters.

By far one of the most adorable and photogenic animals on the planet.


By far one of the most fascinating creatures on the planet, but hard to capture on film.

You would think that my photos reflect this, but no. Somehow I’ve got it the wrong way around.

The sea otters were why going to Vancouver Aquarium was a non-negotiable. Never had we had the opportunity to go and see them before, and here one was. Vancouver Aquarium is in Stanley Park, and to get there we had to drive. On what is for me, the wrong side of the road.

Was seeing sea otters worth getting yelled at by a cyclist?


Do I wish there had been a sign to say that it was a one way road and the cyclists took up the right lane?

Also yes.

Before I get to the sea otters, I want to share some truly wonderful information about Vancouver Aquarium. All of their big animals are rescues. As someone who feels quite conflicted about animal captivity in general, although I know there are zoos and aquariums out there that do a wonderful job of preserving species, this was a refreshing change. It’s not necessarily the cheapest day out, but at least you know that your money is going towards protecting marine life.

Now to the sea otters. The first word that comes to my mind to describe them is joyful. With their constant movement, the rough and tumble games, the somersaults in the water while scratching their backs, they seem to be one of the happiest, most alive animals I have ever encountered. All up, over the course of our time there, we would have been standing and watching them for at least 45 minutes.

Although the sea otters were our ultimate draw card for the day, the rest of the aquarium was spectacular as well. From 600-kilo sea lions, penguins from North Africa, to a dolphin named Helen, you were certain of the smell of fish everywhere you went. You were also certain of amazing feats and heartbreaking stories of where these creatures were rescued from.

This was, quite simply, one of the most beautiful and joyful days we had in Canada (although the cinnamon buns come close). I hope that if you ever get the chance to get to Vancouver Aquarium, you take it, and that it has the same effect on your heart as it had on mine.

Jenny Guilford / Jena Ren 2022

This post was originally published November 2019.

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