Luckily, there's no threat of a shark attack from this angle — Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Living in the city has many benefits, but having a close relationship with marine life isn't usually one of them. Since October 2013, that has changed in Toronto. Ripley's Aquarium of Canada opened its doors to the public, allowing an up-close look at 16,000 marine animals in a location right near the CN Tower.
As you can see, Ripley's is pretty easy to find once you are in downtown Toronto — Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Going to Ripley's Aquarium will make you feel small in the best possible way. Above water, we think that our human concerns reign. Having a sneak peak at a different universe can be humbling. You can get such a peak here: there are unparalleled views in the aquarium, such as the moving walkway that transports visitors to an underwater tunnel.
If your kids are afraid of the dark, jellyfish work as the ultimate nightlights — Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Visitors can see the animals up close, while the sea animals can keep their upper hand by having the superior view.
There are specific galleries designed to educate both young and old on the world "under the sea." Planet Jellies is a mesmerizing display of jellyfish, bobbing around you from all corners in a backlit room. Sea nettles look innocent enough, but they're equipped with a powerful, paralyzing toxin. Good thing there is that glass wall between the two of you!
Their saucer-like bodies look like they are floating within the water, and they appear translucent and weightless. Being in this room has the transfixing power of a roaring fireplace.
Sea nettles in a sea of blue — Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Being on Canadian soil, the Ripley's team also wanted to let us know what it looks like underneath the Great Lakes. Who would have expected a Giant Pacific octopus with ripples of tentacles? Or schools of fish that look more overcrowded than a Toronto public school? There are also American eels, whose bodies are covered in a thin layer of mucus. (We realize no one likes that word, so breathe a sigh of relief . . . It's over.)
There are also interactive ways to get acquainted with the blue world, such as the Discovery Centre that has a tsunami creator and horseshoe crab touch pools. Take the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the "Life Support System," the complicated and colourful filtration system that is designed to support the many different kinds of marine life.
"Life Support System at Ripley's — Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Ripley's Aquarium really has undergone an extensive process to ensure that, first and foremost, animal welfare and conservation is achieved. Tourists are nice and all, but they are the secondary concern, as they won't be calling the aquarium home, like the biggest shark collection in North America will.
If your kids are fascinated by the shark encounters, consider booking a "Sleep with the Sharks" sleepover for their next birthday party. You will be considered cool (for an hour, at least).
We can never have too many shark photos — Photo courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
It is certainly nice to see marine life silently command a corner of Toronto. Reserve your tickets to visit Ripley's online in advance. Prices start at $29.98 for adults, $19.98 for youth and seniors and $9.98 for children. The aquarium sells a limited amount of tickets per time slot, but you are allowed to stay as long as you wish.
For more information, visit the aquarium's website.