Many major cities are home to an aquarium, but Calgary has Bow Habitat Station which is a fishy learning experience unlike any other. Having dropped in for meetings in the past, we had a mere glimpse of the learning centre, but with our young nephew in tow, it was time to fully explore the facility.
Bow Habitat Station is located in Pearce Estate Park on the banks of the bow river. The unimposing building is home to the Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery, a learning centre, native fish aquarium and just outside the main doors there is even a kids fishing pond. The day started with a walk through the the second floor Discovery Centre which explores topics like the water cycle, water use and conservation, fishing in Alberta, the life and food of fish and includes through exhibits, all the animals that depend on rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. There is even a great overhead view of the hatchery. Once we were done taking in the interactive learning stations and the in particular the mesmerizing (for young and old alike) MotionMagix Interactive Floor, we headed downstairs to the aquariums and get an up close look at some native fishes!
Most aquariums focus on tropical fish. With their bright colours, odd shapes and impressive sizes, its easy to understand why. However, The Bow Habitat Station shows that with the right layout, lighting and information, native fish can be just as interesting and beautiful! We’re not sure who was more excited the 2 year old making sucker faces at the White Suckers or his aunt and uncle. Before leaving we learned about fish anatomy thanks to the largest fish model we had ever seen!
Once we were able to pull the little one and his uncle away from the tanks we headed outside to enjoy the beautiful day by the trout pond. These well educated fish thoroughly inspected and rejected our flies with the exception of one “inexperienced” fish that was on the line long enough to splash around on the surface momentarily. Its an amazing place for kids to learn to fish, but even for seasoned pros’ catching can be very difficult!
Between the building, pond and numerous trails within the park and along the Bow river, there is something for everyone and it is well worth a visit and made a lasting impression on all of us.