by Stephen Johnson
Ever since the Ripley’s Aquarium opened in Toronto about a year ago, it has been on our family’s bucket list. A recent trip to Toronto provided the perfect opportunity to visit the aquarium.
We had followed the advice of the aquarium’s website and had purchased tickets online. This will save you a lot of time in the lineup.
The aquarium starts with a gallery featuring aquatic creatures from Canadian waters. I enjoyed the Great Lakes exhibit which featured North America’s largest freshwater fish, the lake sturgeon. Our son, David, loved the giant Pacific octopuses who were sometimes difficult to see as they are masters of camoflauge.
We then moved on to the Rainbow Reef gallery. David called this area the Finding Nemo display. There were many coral reef fish that looked similar to the fish in the movie. David loved crawling through a tube which gave him an up close view of reef sharks.
Our introduction to sharks was just about to begin. We entered an area called the Dangerous Lagoon. As you might expect, the Dangerous Lagoon featured an abundance of sharks. David was thrilled to be so close to these amazing creatures. My wife, Sandy and I loved the sawfish which resembled a giant chainsaw with eyes and a fin. We also enjoyed seeing the large sea turtles who did not seem to be bothered that large sharks were swimming in the immediate vicinity. There was a moving sidewalk which makes sure the crowds move at a leisurely but consistent pace.
We were now at the halfway point of the aquarium. Sandy and I were glad to see a cafe where we could sit down and enjoy a coffee. No relaxing for David, he was more interested in the horseshoe crab touch pool and the mini-playground.
After Sandy and I had our caffeine fix, we were ready to explore the rest of the aquarium. The first stop was an area called the gallery. It featured a diversity of aquatic animals and explained how they had made adaptations to survive.
I was excited to see the Ray Bay. This area featured dozens of rays including the Southern Stingray and Cownose Ray. I consider rays to be one of the most graceful creatures in nature.
Next to the sharks, David was most excited to see the jellyfish. His wish came true when we visited the Planet Jellies display. The area is backlit so it appears that the jellies change colours. A highlight was seeing the translucent Moon Jellies floating overhead in a ceiling exhibit.
Our time at the aquarium was almost done but not before we visited the Shoreline Gallery. This was a chance for David to touch stingrays and sharks. Sandy didn’t mind the stingrays but was not so excited about the sharks. Luckily these sharks did not bite so David was able to enjoy the full experience. He did not mind almost fully submerging himself in order to touch the creatures.
At the end of the visit, we picked up a few souvenirs and thought our visit to the Ripley’s Aquarium was truly an awesome experience.
We visited during a weekend in the summer so the aquarium was very busy. If possible, it is recommended to visit during the week or in off-peak season. For more information about the Ripley’s Aquarium, visit, www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada