North Carolina Aquariums
Explore one of North Carolina’s three cool coastal aquariums and you can brag about your beach trip all year long.
Re-opened in the Spring 2002, the Fort Fisher Aquarium has tripled in size with a wide array of exhibits, tanks and instruction.
The Aquarium also displays the inhabitants of the Cape Fear River. Visitors follow the route of the water where it descends down a waterfall showcasing the aquatic life. At the end of the journey, guests can view an oversized tank filled with sharks and other indigenous fish.
Upon arriving at the aquarium, visitors are greeted by “The Freshwater Rivers and Swamps Habitat.” Snakes, frogs and other “swamp things” can be found lounging among the trees and ponds. Of particular interest is the American Alligator, which can be found in many of North Carolina’s rivers.
In the center of the facility is the enormous and fascinating “Ocean Habitat.” Imagine climbing a two-story aquarium filled with sharks, barracuda and more. A smaller tank showcases the pirates of the underworld with examples of fish that might inhabit sunken ships.
Not to be missed is the equally fascinating life-size representation of a humpback whale and her baby.
Digging for shark teeth, watching an interactive story in a large auditorium, and viewing up to 285,000 gallons worth of indigenous aquatic creatures are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to enjoying the recently renovated Roanoke Island Aquarium.
There are two fascinating must-see exhibits at the Roanoke facility – “Storms” and “Sea Turtle Maze.”
The “Storms” exhibit is an interactive weather tracking system that allows visitors to see the amazing impact that storms have on the Outer Banks’ ecosystem and its residents. Storm survivors are on-hand periodically to discuss their experiences with hurricanes and some of the East Coast’s most intense weather eruptions.
The “Sea Turtle Maze” is an interactive exhibit for all ages. As you make your way through the maze, you are taught to think like a sea turtle. Wrong answers to certain questions will leave you at a dead end. When you leave the maze, you will know more about the thoughts of the sea turtle than you ever imagined.
With a theme of "Waters of the Outer Banks" the focus is a 285,000-gallon ocean tank that proudly displays a replica of the Civil War ship, the USS Monitor, along with its underwater inhabitants, including large sharks, groupers and schooling porkfish.
Located within 298 acres of the Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area, the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium not only houses huge tanks but also interactive exhibits, classrooms, meeting rooms, a natural marsh area and two nature trails.
This aquarium recently completed a two-year, $28 million renovation. The expanded Aquarium is three times larger than before, and features exhibits and animals from across North Carolina, including jellyfish, river otters and sharks. A three-story mountain waterfall and offshore shipwrecks are a couple of the new habitats. Visitors get a glimpse of what Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge and the sunken German sub U-352 look like on the ocean floor. The "Living Shipwreck" features a viewing window more than 60 feet long!
In the Coastal Plain Gallery, creatures of the state's coastal lakes will be featured. Plant and animal species that can be found in coastal rivers and swamps are currently on display.
In addition, the “Coastal Waters Gallery” includes a touch pool, providing interactive opportunities to learn about the vast array of area sea creatures. Baby loggerhead sea turtles are also on display.
added: January 6, 2009
updated: January 7, 2009
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