Latest News from Pine Knoll Shores

Sign up now for NC Aquarium Get Hooked Fishing School March 21

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Friday, February 27th, 2015

Wayne Justice with cobiaBe ready for spring angling — sign up for Get Hooked Fishing School at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, Saturday, March 21. The day-long course is packed with presentations from the pros on many topics and types of fishing.

Instructors and sessions include:

  • Rennie Clark — Striped Bass
  • Mark Henderson — King Mackerel
  • Mitchel Blake — Trophy Red Drum and Tarpon
  • Bryan Goodwin — Nearshore Sight Casting
  • Gary Dubiel — Speckled Trout
  • Chesson O’Briant — Offshore Bottom Fishing
  • Jeff Cronk — Flounder
  • Noah Lynk — Saltwater Artificials
  • John Mauser — Red Drum
  • Casey Wagner — Offshore Trolling

The day is filled with activity from registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. to the final wrap-up at 4:30 p.m. Participants enjoy up to five instructional sessions, a catered lunch, drawings for fishing gear and fishing giveaways. Agencies and businesses of interest to fishermen and boaters will be on hand also.

See the full Get Hooked 2015 schedule. All sessions are at the Aquarium. Advance registration is required and space is limited so sign up early. Registration is $60; for Aquarium Society members, $54 — register online. Call 252-247-4003, ext. 257, for more information. Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament sponsors Get Hooked.

Bring on the wings – Forest Fairies to Sea Serpents March 7

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Friday, February 27th, 2015

Nca-pks forest faires 14 fairy home

Wands, wings and magical things come together March 7 at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Fairies, elves, imps, gnomes, wizards, sea monsters, storybook creatures and other mythical characters are invited to enjoy From Forest Fairies to Sea Serpents, a day that melds education with imagination.

The enchantment is free with admission or membership. Even better: kids ages 12 and under in costume are admitted free. Children’s activities for both girls and boys are available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and include opportunities to build fairy houses and gnome homes from pine cones, shells and other natural materials, find fairy and mermaid doors and leave messages for the imaginary inhabitants, discover their fairy or elf names and decorate fanciful wands to take home.

All visitors will enjoy a pretend sea serpent in the Living Shipwreck during the two daily dive shows. The daily Creature Features turn into theatrical fairy tales starring live animals in whimsical, Aquarium-style interpretations of favorite fables.

If weather permits adding the final touches in time, the new TREE-mendous Nature Play Area on the Hoffman Nature Trail opens the same day with some fun festivities. It features a neat treehouse, two slides, a climbing net and an assortment of great stuff such as blocks, tree “cookies” and other items to stir imaginations. TREE-mendous Nature Play is a permanent feature at the Aquarium and will be free with admission or membership.

Though Forest Fairies to Sea Serpents focuses on make-believe beings, it inspires a closer look at real animals and their environments by connecting creativity, imagination and nature.


Two Aquarium employees honored

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Friday, February 27th, 2015

w NCA-PKS 2014 Employee Awards Heather Estep and Gwendy Womble xxThe 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.

Conservation Horticulturist Gwendy Womble was recognized with the 2014 Award of Excellence. She has worked at the Aquarium for nine years, tending to the plant backdrops in many exhibits. She also oversees the Aquarium’s extensive landscaping, which varies with the seasons. The outdoor areas include demonstration rain gardens and bog gardens. The nominations cited her dedication and hard work at keeping the Aquarium’s entrance attractive and educational.

Special Activities Instructor Heather Estep was chosen for the Customer Service Award. She has led classes, field trips and camps at the Aquarium for two and a half years. Many little visitors — and their parents — appreciate her enthusiasm and creativity in the popular Toddler Time program offered free on Wednesdays throughout the winter. Her extensive volunteer work with Relay for Life also was cited.

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 — and Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. The Society annually sponsors the employee awards.

Aquarium honors 2014 volunteers

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Friday, February 13th, 2015
w NCA-PKS Volunteer Award winners 2014

Back: Volunteer of the Year Barbara Neptune, Rookie of the Year Tiffany VanWyck and Distinguished Volunteer Service Award winner Cheryl Balthrop. Front: Above and Beyond Award winner Ellen Mueller, Aquarium Volunteer Coordinator Chris Carlin and Above and Beyond Award winner Kay Howe.

Nearly 200 volunteers gave 20,000 hours of their time and talents to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores in 2014. The Aquarium recently honored them for their dedication and their valuable contributions with an appreciation dinner and 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.

w NCA-PKS Dive Volunteer Award winners 2014

Volunteer Diver of the Year Jason Johnson, with two members of the Volunteer Dive Team of the Year, Vic Riley and Rich Westfall

Congratulations to two volunteers who earned the 2014 Volunteer of the Year Award – Nancy Aitken and Barbara Neptune, both of Morehead City. The Rookie of the Year 2014 Award went to Tiffany VanWyck of Hubert, and Madeleine Massey of Wake Forest earned the Junior Volunteer of the Year Award. Above and Beyond Award winners for 2014 were Ellen Mueller of New Bern, and Kay Howe, Maureen Danehy and Sheryl Woodbury, all of Pine Knoll Shores.

Distinguished Volunteer Service awards went to Joan Rogers of Morehead City, Cheryl Balthrop of Newport, Sherry Wagner-Brown of Bogue, Lilla Wieseler of Indian Beach and Lynn Wilson of Emerald Isle.

Jason Johnson of Cape Carteret was named the 2014 Volunteer Diver of the Year, and Chris Schiebel of Emerald Isle the Volunteer Rookie Diver of the Year. The Dive Team of the Year Award went to Rich Westfall of Jacksonville, Tommy Pate of Winterville and Vic Riley of Swansboro.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Volunteer Coordinator Chris Carlin at 252-247-4003, ext. 286. See the volunteer page for more information.

Succulent Seafood dishes up cooking savvy

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Friday, February 13th, 2015

The Aquarium teams up with top restaurants to dish up recipes and tips on selecting and preparing fresh,seafood seasonal, local seafood. Succulent Seafood sessions are scheduled for selected Mondays at 2 p.m. Aquarium staff members share information on the life cycles and habitats of featured seafood species. Chefs provide favorite recipes and personal insights on preparing finfish, shellfish and crustaceans. A taste test of the featured dish tops off each gathering. Succulent Seafood is for ages 12 and up; $15 per person, per session. Advance registration is required. Call 252-247-4003 for more information. The current line-up includes:


March 2 — Swansboro Yacht Club, Swansboro

March 9 — Minoda’s Japanese Steakhouse, Morehead City

March 16 — Ice House, Swansboro

March 23 — Amos Mosquito’s, Atlantic Beach

March 30 — Island Grille, Atlantic Beach

An “otterly” wonderful birthday party

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Friday, February 13th, 2015

w NCA-PKS otters in logEno the otter is turning seven years old! And his roommates, Pungo and Neuse, are now the big one-o, as in 10. At the annual Otter Birthday Bash on March 28, celebrate the furry fun the otters have given Aquarium visitors over the years, as well as the conservation success story of their species.

Wish the otters a happy birthday in your own words on a giant birthday card, and make otter-oriented crafts. During morning and afternoon programs at their habitat, ask the otter keeper questions about what the otters eat and the “enrichment” activities and objects that pique their natural curiosity. Watch them play with their presents opened during one of the programs, and see how they handle a birthday cake made of ice, frozen fish and other surprises for them to find as the creation thaws.

See slideshows and videos about the otters, including the story of Eno, who inspired the annual celebration. Eno came to the Aquarium as an orphaned infant in 2008. In addition to providing the essentials of food and shelter, Aquarium staff helped Eno master swimming and other skills otter mothers normally teach their young. Pungo and Neuse were about a year old when they arrived at the Aquarium in 2006. All three are named for North Carolina rivers.

The River Otter exhibit and the birthday bash highlight the comeback of otters in North Carolina. They had all but disappeared from the state at one time due to over-hunting for their luxurious fur, and loss of habitat due to development and pollution. Thanks to conservation measures and reintroduction efforts, they once again inhabit waterways throughout the state. American river otters were once nearly extinct in North Carolina due to overharvesting, habitat destruction and pollution. Conservation measures and reintroduction efforts have boosted the population of the fun-loving creatures statewide.

Otter Birthday Bash activities are free with admission or membership.


Charity Navigator Awards NC Aquarium Society Third Consecutive 4-Star Rating

News Article From: Fort Fisher,Pine Knoll Shores on Friday, February 13th, 2015

Outreach SeahorseCharity Navigator, America’s largest and most popular independent evaluator of charities, has awarded the NC Aquarium Society the prestigious 4-star rating for good governance, sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency. The Aquarium Society, which supports the three NC Aquariums, is one of only nine aquarium organizations in the country to receive four stars. According to Charity Navigator President Ken Berger, only 12% of the charities measured have achieved this rating for three consecutive years, which “differentiates the NC Aquarium Society from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their support.”

“We are honored to receive Charity Navigator’s highest rating for each of the last three years,” said Bill Taft, Chairman of the Society’s Board of Directors. “This distinction reflects our accountability to all our constituencies and our commitment to support the Aquariums’ future.”

Charity Navigator works to help charitable donors make intelligent giving decisions by providing information on more than five thousand charities nationwide and by evaluating their financial health. It calculates each charity’s score based upon several broad criteria, including how much is spent per dollar raised, what percentage of funds goes to programs vs. administrative and fund-raising expenses, and the organization’s long-term financial health. It then assigns a rating from one to four, with four being the best rating. These are available at

Dr. Neal Conoley, President of the Aquarium Society remarked, “This high rating coupled with the Aquariums’ growing reputation highlights our focus on good stewardship of charitable contributions and maintaining the public trust.”

The nonprofit Aquarium Society, founded in 1986 as a support organization for the state’s three public aquariums, has been instrumental in helping each facility expand its educational exhibits and programs to better serve visitors. Following a loss of appropriated construction funding due to Hurricane Floyd in 1999, the Society stepped in to borrow the $26 million needed to rebuild and expand the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Today, all three Aquariums and Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head partner with the Society to help meet the needs for new exhibits, programs, and operational support.

The Aquariums are located at Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, at Pine Knoll Shores, near Atlantic Beach, and on Roanoke Island, near the Outer Banks. Jennette’s Pier was rebuilt and reopened in Nags Head in 2011. The four sites hosted more than 1.4 million visitors last year. The Aquariums are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and were created to inspire the appreciation and conservation of North Carolina’s aquatic life.

Photo exhibit features early morning images

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores,Uncategorized on Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

w Elegant Egret by Renate EichingerEnjoy sights seen in the early hours along coastal routes with a photography exhibit titled “Good Morning!” Renate Eichinger took most of the shots during her morning commute between Beaufort and Harkers Island, pulling over when inspiration struck.

“For many, I didn’t even get out of my car,” she said. A few images were captured from the dive boat Atlantis IV as it passed  between Atlantic Beach and Morehead City or a few miles offshore.

Eichinger used both a compact camera and a more sophisticated SLR model — and her smartphone. The latter especially emphasizes her motivation for assembling some of her favorite photos for exhibit.

“With this show, I hope to inspire others to shoot and share photos of the world they inhabit,” she said. “You don’t have to have fancy equipment or be a professional photographer. Sometimes, all it takes is a moment to pull off the road and roll down the window to rediscover the beauty of the world all around us.”

See the “Good Morning!” exhibit across from Discovery Classroom, free with admission or membership, any day between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  through March 31.


Cold sea turtles get warm welcome at Aquarium

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores gave a warm welcome to eight sea turtles recovering from the effects of icy New England waters. The turtles are all Kemp’s ridleys, the smallest sea turtle species and considered endangered. They were among hundreds of sea turtles recently rescued off Cape Cod after water temperatures dipped dangerously low for the cold-blooded reptiles.

NCA-PKS Michele Lamping with Kemp's ridley 2The New England Aquarium and its sea turtle hospital has been taking in rescued turtles by the dozen. As the numbers kept climbing, other aquariums were called upon to shelter animals stable enough for transport. The North Carolina Aquariums at Fort Fisher and on Roanoke Island also expected to receive some of the stricken turtles.

Because these marine reptiles can’t tolerate winter weather, most head to warmer waters when the seasons change. Lingering turtles caught in a sudden chill suffer a potentially deadly condition called “cold-stunning,” similar to hypothermia in humans. Their heart rates and other functions slow, leaving them lethargic and unable to swim. Prolonged exposure can cause paralysis, and the turtles float on the surface or wash up on beaches. Eventually they go into shock, and many die.

The turtles were examined by veterinarians in New England and in North Carolina. They are behind the scenes at the Aquarium. They will be released w nca-pks kemp's in handoffshore as soon as they recover and transportation can be arranged, which could be days, weeks or months. Cold-stunning occurs in North Carolina waters also. A cold-stunned green sea turtle recently found near Cape Lookout is recovering at the Aquarium. The numbers vary widely according to weather patterns, but some cold-stunned turtles are brought to the Aquarium for care almost every winter. See a video on how the Aquarium helps these creatures.

Sea turtles are protected by federal law. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission monitors sea turtle rescues, rehabilitation,  releases and nesting and hatching activity in the state. If you come across a stranded sea turtle, dead or alive, call the NCWRC at 252-241-7367 or 252-728-1528.




Bring the Aquarium to you

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Saturday, November 8th, 2014

nca-pks outreach 1Brighten up a winter day for your class or group with an aquatic adventure to-go from the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

Outreach Educators bring live animals, props, costumes and hands-on activities to schools, daycare centers, community groups and festivals.

Presentations can be adapted for all ages and for an array of different groups. Choose from programs featuring sea turtles, alligators, freshwater turtles, snakes, horseshoe crabs and other critters. Classroom programs meet the state’s standard course of study requirements. Custom programs can be designed to meet the needs of any group or class.

See the Outreach pages for a complete list of options and information on booking.