Friday, October 17, 2014

A Visit to Ripley's Aquarium of Toronto

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is a large exhibit located in downtown Toronto, just south of the CN Tower.

I had taken a day's vacation, and we decided to pay the aquarium a visit. We had heard a lot about the aquarium, mostly from friends who had been, and seen their fun pictures on Facebook. Everyone had always commented on how busy it was - so when I had an off day during the middle of the week, we decided to go.

It was a Tuesday, and we were lucky it wasn't busy at all. We could afford to go through the exhibits at our own pace, and take pictures. With a toddler in tow, this was vital.

The aquarium has over 5.7 million litres of marine and freshwater habitats from across the world, and holds over 13,000 animals, from more than 450 species.

This large tank reminded me of an aquarium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but the Toronto tank was much, much bigger. What was interesting was that there was some sort of waves inside the tank, and even the tall plants swayed to and fro.

There were lots of exotic creatures on display, many of them not even fishes. We saw lobsters, crabs, sea horses and so on. Even these sea anemones had their own exhibit.

One of my favourite exhibits was the Rainbow Reef, featuring animals from the Indo-Pacific region. This was the most colourful gallery in the exhibit, and pictures don't do the vibrancy of the colours justice.

I seriously could spend hours photographing each species in this tank - this was so colourful! Here's a photography tip: if you want to photograph aquariums, dress in black. There's no reflection and you can photograph with the lens pressed against the glass. I learned this from one of my photography classes.
The largest tank in the aquarium is the Dangerous Lagoon, which featured an underwater tunnel with a moving side walk.

A favourite of every visitor, this exhibit featured sharks, and lots of them. There were even stingrays to whet your appetite.

Of course nowadays no aquarium is complete without featuring fish from Finding Nemo.

Truly it is amazing, and humbling, to think of the vast variety of life that is found in just the waters of Earth. And it is a shame that we have folks who don't even care about pollution, or the effects of their lifestyle on the ocean. I was reminded of this verse in the Quran:

Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea  [as an outcome of] what the hands of people have  wrought;  so He may let them taste part of [the evil of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness]. - 30:41

Indeed nowadays the results of our actions and our pollutions have started to affect the sea and fisheries - it is indeed alarming.

One of the cool things about Ripley's that I haven't seen elsewhere are numerous tunnels that allow you "into" the tank, so as to speak, and come face to face with a creature.

While not the biggest, the Planet Jellies exhibit has colour changing displays with five different species of jellyfish. It was just fun to sit around and try to capture these animals on the camera with a different light shining on them.

Overall, while I enjoyed my visit to the aquarium (and definitely my 2 year old son had more fun than me, walking and running all over and saying 'hi' to the 'fisheeees'), I have also visited aquariums all over the world. Particularly the Shedd aquarium in Chicago comes to mind. While the Toronto aquarium has more species and more tanks, the Chicago aquarium felt more .. grand. For $30+ with taxes, the Ripley's aquarium feels small in comparison. It took us about 2.5 hours to go through the aquarium at a leisurely pace.

I would put the Ripley's Aquarium as a must visit for any tourist to Toronto, but only if you haven't been to aquariums in Chicago or Atlanta. If you have been to one aquarium, they are all the same. It's a nice 3 hours to spend with your children though.

PS. Why was there no seafood restaurant inside the aquarium? I thought that would have been .. fitting.

1 comment:

nadia said...

The displays are a lot like Sharjah Aquarium, except that Toronto's twice the size. And yes, there is also no seafood restaurant here.

Your pictures have come out very beautiful and I agree with your tip. I wear the black abaya so I don't appear in the reflection :)