I arrived at the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada around 6pm on a Friday feeling exhausted from the week. I was gassed from a busier than usual week at work, and side projects and events every night of the week. As I walked into the bright, airy atrium and thought about the shoot ahead, I really didn’t know if I had the energy to give it the attention I knew it would deserve. I love aquariums. My favourite one is the Busan Aquarium in South Korea. I had been looking forward to this visit all week, so I knew I had to muster up the energy from somewhere. So my friend, Natalie, and I checked our coats, grabbed our media passes and dove right in, so to speak.
Opened in late 2013, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is the third member of Ripley’s family of aquariums along with ones found in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It covers a total of 130,000 sq feet and contains 5.7 million liters of water. 13,500 exotic sea and freshwater creatures, representing more than 450 species call the aquarium home with interactive and educational exhibits throughout to learn all about them and their environments.
As soon as I stepped into the dark, cozy exhibits, I could feel the stress of the week drain away. I was instantly drawn to the creatures gliding before me, with their soothing, effortless movements lulling me into a relaxed state. For a moment I was taken back to the first time I went scuba diving except this time I was remaining completely dry. Check out this video to see what I’m talking about:
Make sure to change the resolution to 1080HD!
There’s a lot to see in the aquarium. Some of the exhibits include Canadian Waters, Rainbow Reef, Planet Jellies and the main attraction, the Dangerous Lagoon where you can stand on a moving sidewalk as it guides you through an underwater tunnel while sharks swim beside and overhead. If you didn’t take a step, it would take you 15 minutes to complete the entire moving sidewalk, but one pass just won’t do. Once you reach the end, you’ll want to run back and experience it again and again. I did. 4 times.
The Ray Bay is another notable exhibit. It features dozens of stingrays from 3 different species, the Spotted Eagle Ray, Cownose Ray, and the Southern Stingray. There are daily feeding shows with a diver who can communicate with a microphone underwater while feeding the stingrays by hand. I found out during the show that getting your finger caught by a stingray while feeding them is the equivalent of slamming your hand with a car door. Ouch. Talk about workplace hazards!
It’s no surprise that Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada has quickly become the most popular attraction in Toronto. From families to first dates, school trips to groups of friends, there’s something about aquariums that has people sometimes lining up out the door for.
As I exited the final exhibit, I glanced down at my watch as was shocked to discover we had been inside for almost 3 hours. I honestly didn’t think I would have lasted more than an hour. I probably could have even stayed longer and read more about the featured animals. I surprisingly didn’t feel tired at all. Maybe it was all that water, the dim lighting, or the calmness with which all the fish moved, but I left the aquarium feeling more energized and relaxed than when I arrived. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.
What You Need To Know: Admission prices: Adult (14+): $29.98 | Youth (6-13) & Senoir (65+): $19.98 | Child (3-5): $9.98. Annual passes are also available. The Aquarium is open every day of the year from 9am to 9pm most nights. Double check their website before heading out as they sometimes close early for special events. There are usually line-ups on the weekends, so the best times to go are during the week and in the evenings on Saturday and Sunday. Also, avoid some of the lines and pre-purchase your tickets online.
Do you like aquariums? What’s your favourite aquarium in the world?