Feeding the Sharks at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
From the heart-pounding experience of Dangerous Lagoon, a football-field length glass viewing tunnel with moving glide-path sidewalk through sharks, green sea turtles, sawfish and moray eels; to the hypnotic dance of Pacific sea nettle jellyfish which illuminate an array of breathtaking colours from within one of the world’s largest kriesel tanks at Planet Jellies, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada captivates Torontonians as well as guests from around the world!
Throughout it all, one of the most common questions we receive is “How do you take care of the sharks?”
The sharks that call Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada home are ambassadors for the wild populations that are currently facing human threats, leaving many species on the endangered list. At the Aquarium, we work hard to keep our shark ambassadors happy and healthy. One of the biggest tasks is feeding, of course!
Many people are surprised to hear that sharks generally have a slow metabolism and that we only need to offer food three times a week to meet their dietary requirements. On average, we aim to deliver about 2% of their body weight per feed. The sharks are fed a variety of restaurant grade seafood such as bonito, herring and squid, along with specialized shark vitamins.
At feeding time, it takes a minimum of nine staff members to ensure that the sharks, and other inhabitants in Dangerous Lagoon, are well fed. We utilize three feeding “stations” designated for the sharks, sawfish and stingrays. Each animal has learned to feed at those areas with the use of a coloured target that we put in the water to let them know it is feeding time. As they swim by the station, each individual is offered their lunch at the end of a long feeding pole.
Feeding staff are trained to recognize the individuals by their unique characteristics. While the sharks are feeding, one staff member is responsible for tracking how much each individual is consuming, allowing us to effectively monitor the health and eating habits of each animal.
Feeding the sharks at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is definitely not done behind the scenes! If you are interested in seeing all of this in action, feel free to swim by on a feeding day and check out our Aquarist Talk schedules. We hope that after you experience these beautiful creatures, you not only gain a higher appreciation for them, but become inspired to protect and educate others about their vital conservation in the wild.
Looking for a more interactive experience with our sharks? Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is now offering a Discovery Dive program for SCUBA certified divers. This unique 30-minute guided dive will give guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with sharks, stingrays, green sawfish, and more – all in the heart of downtown Toronto.