The logo of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada features the outline of a shark, and for good reason: the aquarium’s star attraction is a long tunnel through a huge tank which houses six species of sharks.
But there are many more aquatic animals in the aquarium: some 15,000 in total, from 450 different species. They are housed in a modern building that was designed by B+H architects in such a way that it looks like a piece of earth was pushed up to reveal aquatic life. The aquarium, which contains over 5.7 million liters of water, opened in 2013.
The first gallery of the aquarium, Canadian Waters, focuses on the marine habitats of Canada, including the Great Lakes and the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. One of the highlights is the Pacific Kelp, a two-story tank which simulates the water on the shores of British Columbia.
Next up is the Rainbow Reef, which features some one hundred colorful fish species found in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region.
After the tropical waters, visitors are invited to step on a moving walkway that transports them through a 97 meter-long ‘shark tunnel’ under the ‘Dangerous Lagoon’, the aquarium’s top attraction. Here, in a tank with 2.5 million liters (660,000 US gallon) of seawater, live some of the most fascinating marine species including sharks, a couple of large sawfish, giant groupers and stingrays.
“Planet Jellies” features the alienesque jellyfish. Back-lit color-changing tanks hold five species of jellyfish. There’s even a ceiling exhibit – you have to look up to see Moon Jellies float above you.
Another gallery focuses on some of the most delicate species that live in water, including the plant-like Weedy Sea Dragons, the tiny Seahorses and the picturesque Lionfish.
One gallery, entitled ‘Ray Bay’, is dedicated to the popular rays. Dozens of rays from three different species can be observed here, including huge stingrays.
The aquarium’s discovery center invites visitors, and in particular little children, to get a close look underwater with its so-called ‘pop-up’ habitats, where you can stick your head inside a glass sphere or column and see the scenery from inside a tank. There’s also a pool where you can touch horse-shoe crabs, fascinating animals that lived even before the dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Life Support Systems
Interestingly, visitors are also guided along the ‘Life Support System’, a behind-the-scenes look at the impressive array of filtration equipment that make sure the animals in the aquarium can survive. It even shows the temperature and other vital statistics of the main tanks.
Finally, there’s the ‘shoreline’, where you can touch sharks, stingray and other animals. Here you can also have a look from above onto the ‘Dangerous Lagoon’, the aquarium’s largest tank. You can even step on a glass floor and watch the fish swim underneath your feet.