BY HAILEY MERKT
Children bounced around, squealing with excitement.
A crowd stood memorized, staring at a tank of dancing jellies. A colour-changing light illuminated the invertebrates with a fuchsia, electric blue and tangerine hue.
Surprisingly, the expected scents of salt and fish were missing from the air.
A collection of small children stood with their hands and heads pressed against a triple sheet of glass — eyes glistening, pooling with mystery and awe.
“Look mommy,” said one of the children, her voice filled with fascination.
Her mother crouched down behind her, wrapped her arms around her waist and pulled her close.|
“It’s a whole new world on the other side of that glass,” she whispered.
The little girl messily brushed her hair behind her ears and widened her eyes as she contently gazed into the unknown.
“It’s so pretty,” she said.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada in Toronto is meant to fascinate and educate.
It is the country’s largest indoor aquarium with more than five million litres of water and over 16,000 marine animals. It also features more than 100 interactive displays, 50 live exhibits, seven galleries, six play zones and a discovery centre featuring a live touch pool.
One of Ripley’s most unbelievable creatures is the leafy seadragon.
It looks like a seahorse crossbred with kelp. Its body is thin, long and squiggly with an overall luminous appearance. Leaf-like “wings” sprout from every edge of its fragile body, decorating it beautifully.
“It’s remarkable what exists underwater,” said Toronto resident Candace DiCrease. “I’m amazed looking at all the wondrous sea creatures here.”
This Toronto aquarium is deserving of its Ripley’s title because of its breathtaking aquariums and unbelievable facts.
“Did you know that a shark can lose and regrow over 40,000 teeth in a lifetime?” said six-year-old Mannix Freyseng.
“The sharks are awesome, I love them.”
Mannix’s father, Adam Freyseng, said his favourite part was the moving sidewalk through the aquarium tunnel.
“All these fish and sharks swim around you as you just stand there, taking it all in. It’s amazing really.”
Aside from what meets the eye at Ripley’s, it also offers an overnight event where a group of 25 can “sleep with the sharks” in the “Dangerous Lagoon” shark tunnel.
Ripley’s public relations associate, Maggie Doucette, said the aquarium’s peak hours are between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and it has been “more than busy” since its opening on Oct. 16, 2013.
“If you want to see it all without a crowd arrive when the doors open,” Doucette suggested.
Ripley’s is open 365 days a year at 288 Bremner Blvd. in Toronto beside the CN Tower.
Its hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to Saturday.
Ticket prices range from $9.98 to $29.98. For more information visit www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada.