The two aquaria are vastly different – Petty Harbour was small and intimate and it’s whole building could probably fit into one of Ripley’s tanks. Although it’s on a much smaller scale, the enjoyment factor was no less.
Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium is only open for a few months a year. It gets most of its’ exhibits from the local area and then releases them back to the same place at the end of the season with a ‘critter release event’. See here for a video of their 2014 event. Some of the animals can be picked up and held, and friendly staff are happy to chat and educate about the environment.
Petty Harbour itself is a very pretty fishing harbour and home to the excellent Chafe’s Landing restaurant where I got to eat moose… more on that in an upcoming blog post.
By comparison, Ripley’s Aquarium is huge. Literally in the shadow of Toronto’s CN Tower and next to the Blue Jays stadium. The number of exhibits and the size of the tanks is amazing. I particularly liked the tunnel under the ‘dangerous lagoon’ tank which has a moving sidewalk to allow you to watch the sharks and other fish swim over you.
Whilst I love aquariums, they’re definitely at the ‘challenging’ end of the photography scale… tanks are often dimly lit, animals move fast, the tank glass and moving water mess up optics, and there’s reflections everywhere. Packing my Lenskirt was a wise move, and then it’s wide aperture, high ISO, fast shutter, and lots of patience and luck.