From the Chill of Canadian Waters to the Hypnotic Kelp Forests

paddlefish

paddlefish

Prepare yourself for a magical underwater ride at the new Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada in downtown Toronto. The aquarium is divided, yet seamlessly flows together, into various sections starting from the chill of Canadian Waters to the hypnotic Kelp Forests and onto the Dangerous Lagoon and Ray Bay.

The Canadian Waters section houses 17 exhibits in over 665,000 litres of water, with the Great Lake Exhibit containing over 100,000 litres.  After passing by the circular tank of a huge school of alewife fish you enter the Canadian Waters.  Here you’ll meet creatures from the cold Atlantic waters to the Great Lakes and over to the Pacific.  What will you encounter?  You’ll see the paddlefish with its paddle-like snout, long slender body swimming with the lake sturgeon which is the largest freshwater fish in Canada and can grow up to two metres long and weigh 136 kg ( 300 lbs) – with the Canadian gold medal for oldest sturgeon going to an 154 year old.

Another big creature can be found in the center of the Canadian Waters exhibit – the American lobster.  Here your eyes will be dazzled at the pretty yellow, blue and brown colours of the American lobster, found on the Atlantic coast of North America and at over 44 lbs and 25 inches it is the heaviest crustacean in the world.  And my eyes bugged out when I saw in that tank, the largest lobster I’d ever seen, it looked like it could take on any current UFC fighter.

american lobster

grunt sculpin

grunt sculpin

One of my old favourites and a new one can also be seen here.  The wolf eel, which is not even related to other eels, is an old favourite of mine.  I’m sure I’ve never heard anyone call any sort of eel even remotely cute but I must admit the wolf eel is, with its face full of old man character as well as strong jaws.  The wolf eel call the northern Pacific Ocean home and can grow over 8 feet long and top the scales at 41 lbs.  A new favourite is the grunt sculpin, a cute little fish that I’d never heard of or seen before, with its pointy nose and strange shaped body.  The grunt sculpin is named for the odd sound they make when removed from the water – a grunt – it just adds to their cuteness for me.

I have to say I was blown away by the amount of interactive exhibits for children and adults alike at the aquarium, probably the most I’ve come across at an aquarium.  One such is called ‘Catch of the Day’ and is found in the Canadian Waters exhibit that symbolizes a scale for weighing fish from a fisherman’s lot, with an LED screen above that shows the kind of fish being weighed and how much that lot is worth.  I decided to try it out and it turns out I was tuna and cost almost $3000 – wow! too funny, where do I cash myself in?

kelp forestsFrom the Canadian Waters exhibit you are lead to the Pacific Kelp Forest.  With almost 360,000 litres of water this exhibit features a wave maker that simulates the surge conditions of British Columbia’s shoreline.  This exhibit was one of my favourites!  The large, two-story center piece of the exhibit is a taste of the kelp forests and its inhabitants.  You can walk completely around this exhibit, starting from the top and circle your way down to the bottom.  I could have stayed at this exhibit all day hypnotized by the swaying movement of the kelp and fish as they bobbed effortlessly, as if performing an underwater waltz.  The term ‘kelp’ refers to marine algae and kelp forest are considered one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on Earth.  What will you find in this tank?  You’ll encounter cabezon fish that may be brown, red or green depending on the colour of their habitat and whose eggs are poisonous.  Also here is the shovelnose guitarfish which are rays and very well camouflaged at the bottom of the tank – look close!

From the chill of Canadian Waters to the hypnotic Kelp Forests I encountered and learned much about Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada’s amazing creatures!

Check back soon for the rest from my visit to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

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