Stingrays are often portrayed as deadly creatures with venomous tails for a weapon. But the Vancouver Aquarium is trying to change that nasty reputation by allowing visitors to get up close and personal. 

The aquarium has a new interactive pool where you can touch stingrays as they glide beneath the water's surface. The 50,000-litre touch pool is home to 25 graceful cownose rays and southern stingrays and will open Thursday. 

Lest you worry, the aquarium says all the stingrays have had their barbs clipped professionally, just like you get your nails clipped."

Once visitors have washed their hands at a sanitation station, and placed it in the water, the stingrays will typically swim right up. 


Vancouver Aquarium's new stingray interactive pool opens March 10. (Vancouver Aquarium)

"This sensory experience will help create a newfound appreciation for rays and the need to conserve them," said John Nightingale, the aquarium's president and CEO.

"By connecting visitors to aquatic life in a tangible way we hope to inspire more people to care and take action to conserve our natural world."

The exhibit also features informational tidbits on the gentle giants — for example, the gentle southern stingrays can see more than 320 degrees around, and you can take a behind-the-scenes peek through a window at the life support systems for the rays. 

Stingray pool

The 50,000-litre touch pool is home to graceful cownose rays and southern stingrays and will open Thursday. (Vancouver Aquarium)