The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is open as usual, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the weekend of April 18-20.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is open as usual, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the weekend of April 18-20.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores offers a personal touch to make the conservation connection at the annual Crystal Coast Earth Day Festival this Saturday. The Aquarium’s traveling touch tanks put live animals such as sea stars, hermit crabs, urchins, whelks and other creatures at your fingertips during the event, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fort Macon State Park visitor center. Also enjoy live music by Gumbo Lily and fun, hands-on activities for children. More than 20 organizations annually join together for the observance, which is free.
The Aquarium continues its celebration with a week-long Party for the Planet through April 26, emphasizing green places and spaces. Look for helpful displays among the exhibits on how to apply simple but effective changes in your own home and backyard.
The annual Cakes for Conservation competition April 22 is a sweet way to underscore the week’s theme. Bakers ages 5 and up express their philosophies in frosting and compete for cash prizes with confections that depict “Backyard Buddies” – amphibians, birds, snakes, turtles, insects and plants. There is no entry fee. Judges will be looking for creativity, taste, portrayal of the theme and use of local, organic and sustainable ingredients. And the best part – Aquarium visitors can taste the entries after the 3:30 p.m. judging. Read more here.
The Aquarium Party for the Planet activities are free with admission or membership.
Campers enjoy outdoor adventures, behind-the-scenes action and hands-on activities at the Aquarium’s summer day camps. Register now – camps are booking fast. Registrations are accepted online only.
All camps run from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. The fee is $270 per camper – members pay $243. Payment is due upon registration.
This summer brings a new camp just for the small fry – Sea Squirts for kids entering kindergarten and first grade. Students entering grades 2-8 can choose from three sessions throughout the summer. Here’s the full line-up by age group:
NEW! Sea Squirts (Rising K-1st graders)
Session I – Aug. 18-22
Aquatic Adventurers (Rising 2nd and 3rd graders)
Session I- June 30 -July 4
Session II- July 21-25
Session III- Aug. 11-15
Coastal Explorers (Rising 4th and 5th graders)
Session I- June 23-27
Session II- July 14-18
Session III- Aug. 4-8
Sea Scholars (Rising 6th -8th grades)
Session I- June 16-20
Session II- July 7-11
Session III- July 28-Aug. 1
The annual Earth Day Party for the Planet starts off sweetly with the Cakes for Conservation competition judging on April 22.Bakers ages 5 and up can compete for cash prizes. Confections should depict “Backyard Buddies” – animals, birds and insects you might see from your deck or in your garden. Cakes will be judged on creativity, taste, portrayal of the theme and use of local, organic and sustainable ingredients. Cash prizes to be awarded include $100 to the winner in the professional category; $50 for the top confection in the amateur division; and $25 for the best effort in the junior amateur category for ages 5-17.
Completed cakes should be delivered to the Aquarium between 3 – 5 p.m. April 21 or between 8 – 10 a.m. on April 22. All cakes will be on display from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on April 22. Winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m., followed by a tasting of the entries for all.
From April 20-26, Green Places and Spaces is the theme for displays and activities that emphasize simple and inexpensive ways to “go green” at home. Also, find out more about a new program in which you can help the Aquarium meet all its energy needs with renewable sources. On April 19, the Aquarium and its traveling touch tanks join other conservation –minded organizations at Fort Macon State Park for the Crystal Coast Earth Day Celebration.
Admission fees at the three North Carolina Aquariums will increase by a little less than $3 starting March 1. Jennette’s Pier at Nags Head, also under the Aquariums Division, will institute a walk-on fee of $2 for sightseers; $1 for ages 12 and under. The fee increases are part of an effort to offset shrinking state funding for the state aquarium facilities.
“These increases will allow the aquariums and Jennette’s Pier to continue to fulfill our mission of conservation education, and meet our commitment of providing visitors with top-quality experiences,” said David Griffin, director of the Aquariums Division. “That includes everything from new animals, exhibits and activities to building maintenance.”
The aquariums last increased admission fees eight years ago. Since then, state support has dropped by 30 percent.
Aquarium fees for each age category increase by $2.95, bringing the adult charge to $10.95; ages 62 and up to $9.95 and children, ages 3-12, to $8.95. The new fee structure also includes a military rate of $9.95. Children ages 2 and under and members of the North Carolina Aquarium Society will continue to enjoy free admission.
“Even with the increases, admission fees at the aquariums are some of the lowest among aquariums across the country,” Griffin added. “The aquariums are great values for family outings.”
Last year, 272 volunteers gave more than 20, 500 hours of service to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The Aquarium honored them for their dedication and their valuable contributions at a Jan. 23 awards ceremony. Volunteers daily provide visitors with assistance at the information desk, as exhibit interpreters, at the two touch pools and during events. Volunteer divers assist with dive programs and exhibit maintenance.
A few members of the force were singled out for special awards. Congratulations to the 2013 Volunteer of the Year, Gervase Motes of Newport, cited for serving extended stints as the costumed shark mascot, Friendly Finley, and filling a variety of other volunteer roles. Brian Balthrop of Newport earned the Order of the Spadefish Award for Excellence in Customer Service for his work four times weekly at the Information Desk.
Barbara Neptune and Nancy Aitken of Morehead City and Karen Naftzger of Emerald isle were recognized with Above and Beyond Awards for going beyond the call of duty.
Distinguished Volunteer Service awards went to Barbara Yankauskas and Jim Yankauskas of Pine Knoll Shores, Maggie Rauschenberg of Swansboro, Jeff Brown of New Bern, Tom Ruddiman of Cape Carteret, Sharon Lewis of Emerald Isle and Kaye Jones of Fredericksburg, VA.
Hubert Bowen was chosen as the 2013 Volunteer Diver of the Year and Jason Johnson as Volunteer Rookie Diver of the Year. The Wednesday A Team took the honors for Diver Team of the Year. Members include team leader Allan Lloyd and Warren Lloyd, Amanda Lloyd and Tom McNamara. See more photos.
The North Carolina Aquarium Society recently honored two employees at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores for outstanding performance. The two were selected from nominations by their fellow Aquarium employees.
Business Manager Cathy Piner was recognized with the 2013 Award of Excellence. She has worked for the Aquarium for 29 years. The nominations cited her experience, integrity, enthusiasm, sense of fun and dedication. They also described her as a hard worker, a team player and someone who encourages others.
Tia Reigner was chosen for the 2013 Customer Service Award. A cashier in the Visitor Services department, she has worked for the Aquarium since it reopened after remodeling in 2006. Nominations praised her for continually going above and beyond to make the Aquarium a better place to work and visit, being always willing to help and giving 110 percent to her job every day.
The membership-based North Carolina Aquarium Society supports programs and activities at the three North Carolina Aquariums – at Pine Knoll Shores, at Fort Fisher and on Roanoke Island.
The volunteer diver program at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores currently is accepting applications for weekday teams only. Please see the Aquarium’s volunteer page for more on volunteer diver responsibilities and requirements. If you are interested in joining the team, or have any questions, please contact Dive Safety Officer Ethan Simmons at email@example.com to request an application.
An art exhibit at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores will send your spirits soaring. The show, titled Wild Wings over North Carolina, features watercolors, colored pencil, scratchboard and pen-and- ink portraits of birds found state-wide, including coastal egrets, ospreys and gulls; blue jays, cardinals and other backyard birds; and elusive species such as red-bellied woodpeckers, wrens and turkey vultures.
The Carolinas Chapter of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators celebrates the beauty and wonder of wild birds through this exhibition, created for the three North Carolina Aquariums. “We’re so pleased to partner with the North Carolina Aquariums in promoting public awareness of environmental issues and the diversity of life around us, ” said Jennifer Landin, chapter president. “Bird species, in North Carolina and around the world, have been on the decline for over 40 years. With this show, we encourage the public to take a moment and appreciate the birds in our own backyard.”
The exhibit will be Pine Knoll Shores through March. It had previously been featured at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators is a group of scientific illustrators, amateur artists, students and botanical and wildlife artists. The Guild is a non-profit organization founded at the Smithsonian Institution in 1968 dedicated to providing information and encouraging high standards of competence in the field of natural science illustration. It has regional chapters in the United States and hundreds of members around the world. The Carolinas Chapter is based at thee North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill and conducts workshops, shows and an annual illustration retreat.
Eighteen green sea turtles that had recovered from a bad chill are home in time for the holidays. They and a loggerhead hitched a ride to warmer offshore waters with researchers from the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences (UNC-IMS) last Friday.
The young green sea turtles were brought to the Aquarium after the Thanksgiving cold snap. Sea turtles are cold-blooded and can’t tolerate winter weather. Most usually head to the warmer Gulf Stream waters or migrate south when the seasons change. Those that still in the area when water temperatures drop can suffer a potentially fatal condition called cold-stunning, similar to hypothermia in humans. Their heart rates and other functions slow, making them too lethargic to swim. They can die from prolonged exposure.
The loggerhead yearling had spent several months at Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. It couldn’t make it to the ocean on its own after hatching in the fall of 2012 on a North Carolina Beach, and was brought to the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores for care. The Aquarium helps several facilities around the country with sea turtle education programs by providing hatchlings for a limited time. The turtles are released when they are a year or so old.
The Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is among facilities that work with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to provide care for cold-stunned turtles and weak hatchlings. NCWRC coordinates sea turtle rescues, rehabilitation and releases and monitors nesting and hatching activity in the state.
The turtles got a lift with a UNC-IMS dive team departing from Wilmington to survey offshore reefs. The effort also included people from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, which provided the boat, and NOAA.
The Aquarium already has cared for and released 15 cold-stunned turtles this fall. Several more are recovering in behind-the-scenes holding areas.