Latest News from Pine Knoll Shores

North Carolina Aquariums among the best in the US

News Article From: Fort Fisher,Pine Knoll Shores,Roanoke Island,Uncategorized on Monday, July 20th, 2015
The North Carolina Aquariums are stars! Visitors rated the three state Aquariums among the best in the nation on a popular travel website.

The North Carolina Aquariums are stars! Visitors rated the three state Aquariums among the best in the nation on a popular travel website.

Fascinating animals, friendly staff and dynamic exhibits make the North Carolina Aquariums three of the best in the nation, according to a popular travel website.

The Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores came in at number 12, Fort Fisher at 16 and Roanoke Island, 19, on the TripAdvisor® list of the top 25 aquariums in the United States.

The state-operated facilities share top billing with much larger counterparts on the Travelers’ Choice™ scorecard. The high honors resulted from comments and ratings hundreds of visitors to the North Carolina Aquariums contributed to the travel website over 12 months. TripAdvisor® says it uses an algorithm that takes into account the quantity and quality of such reviews.

Visitors praised the clever ways learning is integrated with family fun, the helpful and friendly staff and volunteers, experiences such as seeing sea turtles and touching stingrays, and the variety of exhibits on offer each year.

Here are some comments that propelled the Aquariums to the winners’ circle. Click on the name of each facility to see more of the TripAdvisor® reviews.

Pine Knoll Shores: “Wonderful, helpful staff…Absolutely beautiful and educational…There are always new exhibits.”

Fort Fisher: “North Carolina’s jewel of an aquarium…A must-see attraction…Loved being able to touch the rays.”

Roanoke Island: “We were able to ask questions to the divers while they were in the tank…Otters were just too much fun…I have been there six different years and each time was as exciting as the first.”

David Griffin, Director of the North Carolina Aquariums Division, thanked visitors who took time to comment on their experiences on the travel site. “We appreciate the honor. More importantly, though, visitors are saying they learned about fish and sharks and other aquatic animals while enjoying time with their families. That is what we want to hear. That is why we go to work every day,” he said.

The Aquariums, under the N.C. Department of Natural Resources, share a common mission to inspire appreciation and conservation of North Carolina’s aquatic environments. The facilities also are major players in coastal tourism. More than a million people visited the three Aquariums in 2014. The Aquariums Division also operates Jennette’s Pier at Nags Head, an educational fishing pier that recorded 850,000 visitors in 2014.

Shark Week July 25-Aug. 1 brings toothy times to NC Aquarium

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Friday, July 10th, 2015

Sink your teeth into fun and facts all about sharks during Shark Week July 25–Aug. 1 at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Family-friendly programs, activities, crafts and displays portray the truth about these often misunderstood creatures, their essential role in the ocean ecosystem and the threats they face.

“The popularity of Shark Week and the immense interest the public has in these fascinating animals gives us an opportunity to tell the real story of what is happening to sharks,” said Education Curator Windy Arey Kent. “Finning, over-fishing, pollution and other factors have caused shark populations to plummet worldwide. That can indicate big problems for ocean ecosystems.”

Shark Week activities, free with admission, include information on solutions. “We want to use this opportunity to let people know that while sharks face overwhelming obstacles, people have the power to help the ocean’s top predators each and every day,” she said. Scheduled programs include an auditorium Creature Connection that reveals the inside story on shark anatomy, divers swimming with sharks in the Living Shipwreck, and shark and stingray feedings.

Meet a young nurse shark in the Skate and Ray Encounters touch pool. Bring the small fry for shark-themed crafts and hands-on activities in Discovery Classroom 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. For funny photos, show your toothy grin inside the replicated jaws of a huge, now-extinct megalodon, shake fins with shark mascot Friendly Finley or pose close to the snout of a great white shark — a life-size inflatable replica, that is.

About 50 of the more than 400 shark species worldwide frequent North Carolina waters. Look for four species of sharks at the Aquarium. The fierce-looking sand tiger sharks, fast-moving sandbar sharks and the curiously named nurse sharks inhabit the Living Shipwreck. Look for bonnetheads in the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

For an overhead look at an shark feeding, sign up for the Shark Snack Behind-the-Scenes Tour on Tuesday and Friday — advance registration and additional fees are required for this special program.


Owls spread their wings in Aug. 4 event

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores,Uncategorized on Thursday, July 9th, 2015

w nca-pks 4x6 Eastern Screen Owl-BoltWise up about owls with programs, crafts, activities and encounters Aug. 4 at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

The Aquarium joins organizations and facilities worldwide in celebrating International Owl Awareness Day. Fun, owl-oriented activities  spread knowledge and debunk myths about these often mysterious winged wonders. The day also reveals the troubles some species face and how everyone can help.

Highlights include opportunities to meet the Aquarium’s owls — an Eastern screech owl, a great-horned owl and a barn owl. All three owls have injuries or conditions that make them permanent resident, where they star in educational programs.

Also watch the dissection of an owl pellet, a compacted, regurgitated mass of undigestible parts of prey such as bones, teeth, claws, skulls, feathers and fur. An examination of these remains provides insight into the diet and lifestyle of the bird.

Look for classroom activities on how to certify your yard as a backyard habitat, crafts such as making a birdhouse and touchable owl wings and other bio-facts items.

Throughout the day, enjoy posters around the Aquarium featuring the “whoooo,” what, when and where of owl populations around the state.

Owl Awareness Day activities are free with admission or membership, as is admission to the twice-daily Bird’s-Eye View flighted bird program.


White sea turtle’s fifth birthday celebration Aug. 13

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

w nca-pks nimbus 2014

Nimbus, the rare white sea turtle at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, turns five in August. Enjoy a daylong Sea Turtle Celebration on Aug. 13 that honors the unusual loggerhead. It also highlights the troubles sea turtles face, and how you can help them.

Some activities include:

  • Sign a super-sized birthday card for Nimbus and pledge to help sea turtles.
  • See how last season’s youngsters have grown, and check for new hatchlings in the sea turtle nursery exhibit.
  • Meet sea turtles in a program or animal encounter.
  • Participate in hands-on activities and crafts.
  • Pose next to an inflatable giant leatherback turtle, and enjoy other displays and crafts.
  • Talk to sea turtle network volunteers about their work monitoring nesting and hatching activity.
  • Watch sea turtle feedings.

The celebration coincides with sea turtle hatching season on area beaches. Because of sea turtles’ imperiled status, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and trained volunteers monitor how many eggs hatch from each nest and check for hatchlings left behind. For several years, the Aquarium has provided temporary care for some of these little turtles until they can be released.

Nimbus turned up in a nest excavation on a Pine Knoll Shores beach in August 2010, and was brought to the Aquarium. Expert care has helped it overcome mouth and nasal deformities and vision problems. Nimbus, meaning a radiant light or shining cloud, was the name chosen out of hundreds suggested by the public. A genetic deviation similar to that of albino animals causes the pale coloring. Nimbus’ sex is not known.

Nimbus inhabits the Queen Anne’s Revenge Exhibit, in the Tidal Waters Gallery beyond the Skate and Ray Encounters touch pool. Sea Turtle Celebration activities are free with admission or membership.

See a sand-sational version of Venom exhibit

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

6-19-15 Sandy Feat Venom sand sculpture web (2)Sandy Feat has carried out another big idea at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The famed sand sculpting team molded 16 tons of the stuff into a unique depiction of the Aquarium’s newest exhibit, Venom.

The towering sculpture includes many of the venomous or poisonous creatures featured in the collection of displays around the Aquarium that make up Venom. See how many you can find in and around the giant letters spelling out the name of the exhibit — lionfish, stingray, tarantula, bee, rattlesnake, pufferfish, octopus and scorpion, to name a few.

Sandy Feat, led by Ed Moore, finished the creation in five days. First came the idea, followed by the construction of plywood molds and then moving the sand with a front-end loader. The sculpting started off with shovels. Next, trowels and other small tools came into play for shaping. The finely detailed scene was finessed with tiny artist brushes, spray bottles and drinking straws.

The sand sculpture will remain near the Aquarium entrance until weather takes its toll. The Aquarium is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Viewing the sculpture does not require admission. Sandy Feat has amused summer visitors with a sand sculpture every year since the Aquarium reopened in 2006 after remodeling.

Sign up for outdoor adventure and indoor discoveries

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores,Uncategorized on Monday, June 15th, 2015

w nca-pks SUP boyExplore the coastal environment with hands-on, feet-wet adventures under guidance from the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

Stand-up paddle boarding, a.k.a. SUP, returns to the schedule five days a week. New this year — two sessions are customized for younger kids and their parents. The Aquarium SUP sessions combine a hot trend in water sports with a guided tour of the Roosevelt Natural Area and adjoining Bogue Sound, led by Aquarium naturalists.

The Aquarium provides the boards and other equipment and expert instruction. Sessions are 9–11 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for ages 12 and up. The same time slots on Tuesday and Thursday are for ages 6 up — adult companions are required.

If you prefer to view the scenery while seated, sign up for a canoe or kayak voyage. On foot, explore Bogue Sound’s shallow waters and tidal pools with Marsh Madness, or take a Night Trek on the beach to learn about the sea turtles. Fishing Fanatics and Sound Seafood: Catching Clams and Crabs provide a chance to practice new skills, and knowledge about use and conservation of saltwater food sources.

At the Aquarium, get in on behind-the-scenes action. Big-picture overview tours of 45 minutes are available Monday through Saturday, and a 90-minute in-depth version is offered on Sundays. Specialized tours include a rare chance to enter the backstage area of the river otter exhibit and talk to the otter keeper, a trek to the second floor overlook of the Living Shipwreck to feed the sharks and another to feed the fish. In Aquarist Apprentice, participants spend the afternoon assisting staff with preparing food and other aspects of animal care. Preschoolers have their own program — Aquarium ABCs — that includes crafts, live animal encounters, stories and outdoor explorations.

All these programs require advance registration and fees. Register online:

Indoor programs
Outdoor programs


Summer fun 2015 at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Monday, June 8th, 2015

boys wiht fishEnjoy gallons of fun at the Aquarium, open every day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., including the Labor Day holiday.

Summer programs free with admission now include Bird’s-Eye View, featuring birds on the wing,  offered twice daily. Stand-up paddle-boarding and other outdoor adventures join behind-the-scenes tours on the long list of memorable experiences available for additional fees.

The theme for summer Thursdays is Get Outside and Play, inspired by the new TREE-mendous Nature Play Area just past the Marsh Boardwalk on the Hoffman Nature Trail. Enjoy activities at the playground and also animal encounters and creature connections on the boardwalk, free with admission.

Inside the Aquarium, look for more than a dozen components of the new Venom: See Beyond the Danger exhibit that spotlight venomous or poisonous insects, reptiles and fish. The exhibit is free with admission.

Colorful cast members soar in Bird’s-Eye View

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores,Uncategorized on Sunday, June 7th, 2015

nca-pks conures with namesTake your visit to new heights with a twice-daily bird show, Bird’s-Eye View, now free with admission for summer 2015. In addition to owls, pelicans and other raptors and water birds found in  North Carolina, three sun conures take to the air in Big Rock Theater.

These South American natives are related to the extinct Carolina parakeet. The Aquarium’s Facebook followers helped choose fitting names for the brightly colored birds — Kiwi, Papaya and Mango.

Enjoy Bird’s-Eye View at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Big Rock Theater. Some of the birds that waddle, swoop or soar through their parts in the program have injuries that prevent their release. Others were captive-bred or otherwise imprinted by human interaction so they lack survival skills needed in the wild.

The sight of birds in flight and rare close encounters with these feathered creatures provide a fun family experience. The program also delivers conservation messages by pointing out simple actions everyone can take to help these birds and their wild cousins.

Venom – See Beyond the Danger exhibit open

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Sunday, May 31st, 2015

w NCA-PKS Asian forest scorpionVenom — See Beyond the Danger offers a different perspective on some of nature’s feared creatures. The world is full of species that defend themselves through toxins delivered by bite, sting or touch. Some of these substances hold promise for medical treatments of human ailments.

Look for a dozen new displays of venomous and poisonous insects, reptiles, fish and other creatures interspersed throughout the Aquarium under this theme. Some of the unlikely stars are native to North Carolina. Others, such as the formidable Asian forest scorpion, are distant cousins to variations found in the state.

Venom also incorporates the outdoor walk-through Hidden Inhabitants snake exhibit on the Marsh Boardwalk that is expanding to showcase all but one of North Carolina’s native venomous snakes. Beautiful Invaders, the lionfish display in the Ocean Gallery, is in the Venom lineup, too, as well as the stingray touch pool.

Learn more about the difference between poisonous and venomous, the research underway on using toxins to human advantage, the value of these creatures to their ecosystems and how to live in harmony with them by understanding their habits and habitats. Venom — See Beyond the Danger is free with admission or membership.


Camp openings for a few lucky kids

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Monday, May 18th, 2015

nca-pks summer camp boy in waterA few lucky kids can still sign up for the popular summer day camps at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Check the registrations page to see dates, age groups and availability. Registrations are accepted online only. First-time users establish log-in credentials as part of registration.

The Aquarium offers multiple sessions for several age groups. A camp for the small fry — Sea Squirts for kids entering kindergarten and first grade — runs in June. Two sessions of Sea Scholars for grades 6–8 are scheduled for July. Three sessions of two camps for the kids in between are scheduled between June through August — Aquatic Adventurers for grades 2–3 and Coastal Explorers for grades 4–5. All camps run 8:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. The fee is $270 per camper; membership discount applies.

Summer brings lots of other opportunities for family fun on or near the water, including stand-up paddle-boarding classes and surfing. Also watch for more family-friendly activities such as behind-the-scenes tours, paddling trips and other adventures, indoors and out, beginning the week of June 8.