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Two more months until Toronto’s  Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada opens its doors. No exact opening date has been posted on its website yet, but that’s coming soon!

In the meanwhile, what would you like to see at the aquarium?

What would you like to see in this blog? Should I include home aquariums? Do you have a picture or home video of yours that you would like to post? What is your favourite fish? Does it have a name you gave it?

Give us your ideas and thoughts! Click on the reply button on the top left above this blog. Look forward to hearing from you!Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 4.11.22 PM




Public awareness and concern over marine life has grown over the years. The list of concerns , including netting, over fishing,  shark fin cutting, and the capturing of aquatic mammals has influenced our practices and  now we see a number of aquariums like the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada will not exhibit marine mammals such as dolphins and whales.

Currently, sharks, and manta rays are the aquatic attractions more often used to educate the public and to draw crowds.

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The Aquarium of Barcelona Education Centre opened in 1995, serves as an outreach, education and entertainment centre. It’s Dive with the Sharks program puts visitors 8yrs and up into scuba gear, and teaches its basics in order to submerge them underwater behind an enclosure of large acrylic sheets on a moving runway. The runway moves the visitors and a monitor down under and into the Oceanarium tank to see the rays, sharks and fish swim up close to them while behind the acrylic panels. Family and friends are able to observe from outside the water and share the experience. The program is promoted for birthday parties, and summer camps as well as the everyday visit.

sleepwithsharks-header1Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada will have live shows at their Ray Bay and Rainbow Reef with a live diver inside the tank and an educator outside the tank. Another program called “Sleep with the Sharks” will give children an opportunity to explore the aquarium in the evening and participate in hands on educational experiences. This will be followed with a snack before the children slip into their sleeping bags for a sleep-over in the shark tunnel.

The scope of public education and outreach programming being created by aquariums using sharks and rays varies wildly, and as we know with each one comes the possibility of protest as well as pleasured enlightenment.



Toronto’s Bay Street is famous for its tunnels, amongst other things. It has the underground shopping tunnel called the Path, and then it has its wind tunnel, known for its freezing effects. Soon, there will be a third tunnel in the neighbourhood because Toronto’s new aquarium @Ripley’sAquariumofCanada includes a shark tunnel.

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The tunnel is the aquariums key feature with its moving walkway that allows visitors to step on and off of it. The walkway stretches the entire length of the tunnel, a full 96 metres. It will be the longest of its kind in North America. The tunnel passes through the shark lagoon, a habitat where sand tiger sharks, and sawfish live together with a community of species in 2.84 million litres of water.

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Here’s a clip of the Sand Tiger Shark

Shark Week 2011: Sand Tiger Sharks Deceive with Toothy Look

These image renderings from B+H Architects show Ripley’  and its proposed shark tunnel with its diverse marine species and community. Strangely, the visiting public are pictured here showing little diversity, that is highly uncharacteristic of Toronto.

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Here is the shark tunnel at the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium (< 1 million gallons)

The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in Asia. It is composed of 9 exhibition zones of all over the world, including the China Zone, the Antarctic Zone and the Australia Zone. The China Zone is home to several endangered Chinese aquatic species, including rare and precious species from the Yangtze River. The biggest attraction of the aquarium is the underwater tunnel. At 155 meter (509 ft) it is the longest underwater tunnel in the world.

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Explore China

Explore Shanghai Ocean Aquarium





Dubai Mall Aquarium

DOES  SIZE  ”really”  MATTER?

Click the reply button at the top right of this post. Comment and share your points of view.

If public aquariums are important in educating the public in marine environments, then tank size counts. The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, U.S.A., has the largest in the world with a tank that is hour- glass in shape, designed to allow their whale sharks to turn around at each end.

Not all aquarium tanks are shaped the same. The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada in Toronto will have a shark tunnel when it opens. For its sharks and manta rays L’Oceanagraphic in Valencia, Spain, has a tunnel that is 35 meters long connecting two underwater towers with 1,85 million gallons of water. Turkey’s Turkuazoo has a tunnel 80 meters long with its largest exhibit holding 5 million liters, or 1,32 million gallons of water.

I thought it might be interesting to try to list the 10 largest public aquarium tanks in the world. Using Wikipedia and the list provided by  including a number of its visitor comments with their suggested corrections to the list, I can see there are many important distinctions that need to be taken into account.

The size of the aquarium’s tank can be measured in gallons of water – U.S. gallons or Imperial gallons, cubic ft. or metric volume. Often there are several tanks in each aquarium and their combined volume of water is used to determine its standing. Sometimes, the size of the viewing window is the measure.  In all circumstances it’s safe to say that the aquariums showing sharks and manta rays are some of the largest simply because these aquatic creatures are the biggest and largest in scale.

Here is an example. The Georgia Aquarium is commonly known as being the world’s largest aquarium. However, according to Wikipedia,

Georgia Aquarium (redirect from World‘s largest aquarium) it was the world‘s largest aquarium when it opened in 2005. Businessman Bernard its tanks hold 8million USgal. | 30,000 m3 of fresh and salt water. …”

and  the Dubai Mall with its famous aquarium is listed as number two in the world, holding over 400 hundred sharks and rays combined.

“The Marine Life Park located within Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore is the world’s largest oceanarium, with over 100,000 animals of more than 800 species in 45,000,000 l (9,900,000 imp gal; 12,000,000 US gal) of water.”

In 2010, Touropia listed the top ten largest aquariums in the world on its site. Visit it here  and view their amazing images. Notice the flow of readers comments with their suggested corrections to the Touropia list of top ten aquariums.

António Castanheira January 24, 2011 at 5:01 am ·

Nº 5 in this list should be the Lisbon Aquarium – 1.35 million gallons of water.

What’s on your list that counts? Does size really matter?

Click the reply button at the top right of this post. Comment and share your points of view.  Guess how long Toronto’s shark tunnel will be in Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada?












I’ve been thinking about the soon to be opened Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and its marketing meetings during the course of its development. Like most aquariums they would have revolved around visitor approval ratings. Even though public aquariums are popping up all across the world at an impressive rate, and that some aquariums have reduced their visitor admission fees because of higher than expected attendance levels, it’s fair to say that most aquariums will undergo an element of disapproval and concern from special interest groups and even possibly members of the general public at large.

No doubt the subject of sharks comes up in these meetings. I can imagine everyone sitting around the board table discussing the absolute necessity for shark exhibits if for no reason, and there are some good reasons, other than to simply draw in the crowds in order to secure its necessary admission levels to guarantee its own survival.

Ironically, this thought brings me straight away across the country to an exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium where the famous YouTube video of the two otters was recorded by a mom with her family. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at it here and even if you have already seen it, take another look, it’s captivating. This video has been viewed on YouTube more than 19 million times and holds the record for being one of the highest viewed ever. Now that’s what I call an attendance grabber.

What can we learn from this?  An experienced marketing friend said it boils down to being furry or fierce when it comes to public attractions. Maybe a bit of both? What are your thoughts on exhibiting sharks in public aquariums? What do you like best a tunnel or a big big, big tank. What about the otters?



AquaBlog2I was curious about our aquarium’s state of construction and last weekend I went over to have a look. There appears to be more work needed to complete the job than one would expect at this point in time – that is, based on their opening date of summer 2013. This may explain why there has been so little talk about it’s opening, making me think it was the “elephant in the room” or rather, the “whale in the tank”.BLOGpost#2a

That’s changed now with the recent interviews with Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada’s General Manager, Peter Doyle on Breakfast Television, and  in The official opening date on Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada’s website states September 2013.





Like so many other people, both young and old alike, I’ve been following the planning of the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada for ten years. It was designed by B+H Architects  , and is poised at the bottom of the CN Tower. It has taken PLC Construction Canada Inc. two years to build the aquarium and it will soon be opened to the public.

There are so many captivating stories and interesting activities involved in the opening of a major public aquarium that this makes it a great time to blog about it. In the past I’ve been involved in the formal opening of two major public facilities in Toronto, the ROM and the CN Tower, and I recall the excitement and drama surrounding them.

It is an exciting time for Toronto. The aquarium has the potential to distract from the mammoth public image fiasco facing Toronto courtesy of our Mayor Ford.