The Fundy Discovery Aquarium in the coastal town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea here in New Brunswick was such a hit with our toddler last year that it made my recent top 5 list of things to do with the kids in Saint John.
We recently revisited the aquarium for our daughter’s third birthday and found some old favourites as well as some great changes.
Tried and true: The seal feeding
I wrote about the seal feeding in my last review of the aquarium, and it was very similar this time around. A great opportunity to see the seals, and filled with interesting facts about seals, their behaviour and habitat. A hit with all the kids, who ranged in age from 2 – 7.
The star attraction: The touch pools
On the main level, the Fundy Discovery Aquarium has two giant touch pools. Filled with starfish, crabs, sea cucumbers, scallops and other touchable creatures, the big pool attracted most of the kids attention. However, the second pool – smaller and deeper – has skates and lobsters, and was also a hit.
These pools were pretty much the same as our previous visit – a great thing, because it was by far the biggest hit of both visits.
Because it’s affiliated with a research and education facility (the Huntsman Marine Science Centre), aquatic life native to the area are on display here. Salmon are a big deal in New Brunswick, so it makes sense that the aquarium re-arranged some of the fish to create a salmon tank on the lower level.
The salmon feeding was especially exciting, with the fish whipping around to grab the food and splashing water over the edge of the tank. I’m sure there was also some education happening, but Amelia was so enthralled by the activity that I didn’t get a chance to listen!
Also new, but not as active: Seahorses
Amelia couldn’t have cared less about them. (But the older kids were pretty impressed)
Possibly new, or maybe we just missed it last time: Play area for kids
It’s a different dynamic visiting with 5 kids than just one. Once they discovered the kids play area, with a fishing boat play structure as well as some aquatic themed games, we had a hard time pulling them away (even for the touch pools). The younger kids loved it, although the oldest was less enthralled and wanted to be exploring the aquarium.
For the most part, your kids aren’t going to learn much in the play area, with the exception of the display you see above.
I’m honestly not sure how I feel about the play area – after all, we come to the aquarium to see and interact with marine life, and the play area draws kids attention away from that. It’s on the lower level tucked away at the back of the building, so I’d recommend that you try not to let kids 5 and under catch sight of it till you’re done with the rest of the aquarium.
The Fundy Discovery Aquarium is in the resort town of St Andrews-by-the-Sea, and it’s a part of the Huntsman Marine Science Centre. If the weather’s nice, you can also explore the beach on the Bay of Fundy there, but we’ve not yet managed to go on a nice day.
If you take a picnic lunch, like we did, there’s a big tent set up outside with picnic tables inside so you can enjoy a picnic even if it’s raining. (That was a nice touch, thanks Huntsman Marine Science Centre!)
The town of St Andrews is delightful, and well worth an overnight visit if you have time!Google+