British Columbia

Vancouver Aquarium investigating after unusual overnight break-in

A stressful week for the Vancouver Aquarium has taken a turn for the strange.

Shoes, shirts and belts were strewn across the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

Seals at the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre swim in a pool at the facility on Nov. 18, 2016. (Tristan Le Rudulier/CBC)

An already stressful week for the Vancouver Aquarium has taken a strange turn.

Staff arrived this morning at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre to find several articles of clothes strewn around the complex and one of the pools drained.

"Really odd," said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the centre. She said there were around 10 items of clothes left behind. 

"A belt, a couple shoes, some shirts, a sports jersey, just to name a few ... there was no real strategic [location]."

None of the 42 seals in the enclosure appeared to be affected, and there were no animals in the pool that was drained, but Akhurst says the situation is still worrying.

"We're still kind of concerned, because we don't know what else might have been placed around the site."

Difficult week for the aquarium

The break-in, which Vancouver Police are investigating, comes in the same week as the death of 21-year-old Qila — the first beluga whale conceived and born in captivity at a Canadian aquarium.

Qila's mother Aurora, now the only beluga left at the aquarium, is also ill and experiencing the same symptoms Qila did before she died Wednesday morning.

Akhurst says she's hopeful that break-in wasn't any sort of protest or political statement against the aquarium.

"You hope that people aren't going to kick you while you're down, so we're hoping the situation was maybe a one-off, but we're taking every precaution," she said. 

"It's definitely been a tough week at the aquarium. Everyone has been affected in some sort of way with the loss of [Qila] and the illness of [Aurora], so this on top of things really does add to it."

With files from Tanya Fletcher