The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada has been a resounding success since its opening. It pleases both children and adults alike. I have visited other aquariums but none like this one. Its interior lighting design changes the whole experience. The dark halls eliminate all distractions while the giant lit tanks draws our attention. It’s like an underwater cinema. It makes you feel part of the ecosystem.
The aquarium displays over 13,500 species from habitats from across the globe. It’s divided into galleries. Each one represents a different habitat. There’s a number of original attractions besides admiring the underwater creatures. At the Shoreline Gallery there’s a pool where you can touch the horseshoe crab. At the Ray Bay Gallery there are interactive dive shows. But the best show is to watch the animals feeding, specially the sharks.
There are other attractions available for an extra charge. You can snorkel with stingrays at the Ray Bay Gallery. You can join the morning yoga sessions at the Rainbow Reef Gallery. You can even spend the night at the Dangerous Lagoon Gallery under shark tunnel.
Canadian Waters Gallery
The first gallery is the Canadian Waters Gallery. There are 17 small tanks displaying Canada’s diverse ecosystem. There are animals from Canada’s Great Lakes and Canada’s surrounding seas. The tanks are illuminated with an ethereal blue light. This gallery is very dark, making it difficult to take a good photo. I was fascinated to see the blue lobster. Unfortunately I failed miserably to take its picture.
Rainbow Reef Gallery
Rainbow Reef Gallery is the next stop. There’s a giant tank that recreates the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region. The vibrant colors in the fishes and the corals are eye catching. It is truly beautiful.
Dangerous Lagoon Gallery
The main attraction of the aquarium is the Dangerous Lagoon. It’s a immense shark tank with 2.9 million litres of water. In the tank there are other animals like the green sea turtles and the sawfish but the sharks steal the show. The visitors pass through a 97 m underwater tunnel on a moving sidewalk.
This is the most crowded place in the aquarium. If it wasn’t for the moving sidewalk people would never leave it. It is hypnotizing to see the sharks swimming around. I confess I spent 30 minutes there in hopes to take a good “shark selfie”.
The gallery shows strange and delicate species from around the world. There are beautiful animals like the sea dragon, and frightening animals like the piranha fish.
Ray Bay Gallery
At the Ray Bay Gallery you can see the stingrays graciously swimming in the waters. This one stopped to “smile” at the camera.
Planet Jellies Gallery
The Planet Jellies Gallery is spectacular. The giant jelly fish tank has five species of jelly fish from the Pacific Ocean. The giant backlit tank changes its color from time to time.
In front of the tank there’s a big sofa in the dark. I spent several minutes sitting there admiring the jelly fish ballet. It’s so peaceful. The tank changes it’s color from blue to pink to purple. It was my favorite place in the whole aquarium.
I lost track of time while I was there. I spent almost 3 hours wandering around. I wanted to take good pictures and avoid the crowds so I visited on a weekday first thing in the morning. The best time to visit is before 11 am or after 4 pm on weekdays. The drawback is that the shows and interactive activities happens during that time.
Toronto is full of attractions to fill your winter days with fun. None of them are cheap. To save some money plan ahead and buy a timed ticket online. Another option is to buy the Toronto City Pass. I’m not a fan of city passes but in this case I think it is worth it. I didn’t buy it but I regretted my decision later. I ended up going in all the attractions included in the city pass. The aquarium is at the foot of the CN Tower. You can visit the two attractions on the same day.
Also published on Medium.