“Coming in 2020, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada brings you “Shipwrecks”; an exciting, changeable exhibit featuring unique species and stories from around the world and the mysteries of what lies in the wreckage beneath the surface of the water. Explore the fresh waters of the Great Lakes and the legacy of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald while learning about invasive species and their impact on our greatest, fresh water source. Travel to the Mediterranean and discover the ancient history of the Uluburun Shipwreck or visit the waters of the Indo Pacific region to experience unique and colourful species from the area such as the Peacock Mantis Shrimp or Big Fin Reef Squid.”


Ship this! If you’re planning on visiting the aquarium between now and March, be aware we have some exciting changes coming up… Our (former) Curious Creature exhibit is currently undergoing some drastic changes while we prepare for our new “changeable” focus: Shipwrecks.  In the meantime, the area is unavailable, but return soon for a brand new exhibit featuring information on shipwrecks that have happened close to home, and around the world.

deep sea diary feb

For thousands of years’ water has been an efficient, and mostly successful, way of travel, although there have been accidents along the way.  There are many causes behind shipwrecks, and here are some popular reasons:

Poor Design.  If a ship has a misplaced center of gravity it can really affect the success of the vessel.  Heavy rain, rough winds and high waves added with poor design are easily a reason for numerous sea disasters.

Navigational Errors.  I’m sure we’ve all seen the movie, and yes its true a lot of shipwrecks happen when navigational mistakes occur, causing ships to collide with other vessels, land or even icebergs.

Intentional.  But why on earth would someone intentionally sink their ship? For benevolent reasons, like aiding in the start of artificial reefs! Yes, ecosystems can use our tools as tools of their own and thrive!  Many decommissioned boats and other vehicles are sunk to serve as a starting ground for coral reefs.  Large vessels can also be used as breakwater structures when loss of wildlife is apparent off shorelines.

deep sea diary blog

The new animals featured in this exhibit will mirror what you might find in actual shipwrecked ecosystems.  This includes some invasive species that vessel transportation has brought with along the way.  Learn more about parasitic aquatic animals, full of creepy teeth, that live right here in our Great Lakes! There will also be ways that you can help mitigate or stop the spread of invasive species, including:

  • Opting for native species when gardening or housing plants/animals
  • Properly dispose of any unwanted organisms by calling your local pet stores, aquariums or pest control
  • Mitigate the spread by alerting conservation authorities if you spot any invasive species, and note the location
  • When travelling, try not to move plants or animals that could be harboring invasive parasite or insects (i.e. firewood)
  • Makes sure to wash your boats and other water vessels when moving between bodies of water

Underwater Archaeology

There’s also a chance to learn more about underwater archeology, and SCUBA diving!  A lot of shipwrecks have served as popular diving locations in recent years, and is even popular here in Ontario.  Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) makes it possible to see these preserved pieces of history, and what the underwater world has transformed them into.  Get up close and personal with underwater equipment, including dry suits, underwater paper, and other tools used to discover and record shipwrecks.

We hope you plan on joining us this spring for our exciting new exhibits and a chance to learn about these deep sea journeys!


Olivia is an Educator at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada! You may see her if you visit the Aquarium with your class, or attend a daily dive show. Her favourite part about working at the Aquarium is the ability to make long-lasting impressions on all our guests about aquatic environments and conservation – especially with youth!

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