Latest News from Fort Fisher

Room with a View for Loggerheads

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

FF-Loggerhead - New ExhibitA renovation and expansion of the sea turtle exhibit at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher offers juvenile loggerhead turtles a larger space to swim and grow and offers visitors a more engaging experience.

The new display includes three areas: a life-sized bronze sea turtle sculpture perfect for family photo opportunities, a sea turtle swim area and a visual conservation message. Visitors can talk with an aquarium educator about sea turtles learning more about nesting behaviors, facts about the threatened animals and more. An education wall with conservation take-aways also encourages beach visitors to think about their own actions to protect sea turtles. Something as simple like filling in holes and sand castle motes can prevent a nesting sea turtle from becoming stranded. The highlight of the exhibit is the 360 degree view of a juvenile loggerhead. Aquarium staff planned, designed and completed the exhibit work during the winter months.

Currently, two juvenile loggerhead sea turtles and a green sea turtle reside at the Aquarium and help educate nearly 450,000 visitors a year about sea turtle species, all of which are threatened or endangered.

Each summer, the Aquarium works with N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and local sea turtle rescue organizations, accepting a limited number of hatchlings that did not make the initial trek to the ocean. Generally, these turtles are discovered during routine nest excavations three days after hatching. During the turtles’ stay at the Aquarium, the animals receive careful monitoring and care to ensure proper growth and good health. In the fall, they will be released and, depending on size, will be fitted with satellite tracking devices to learn more about their behavior.


Sea turtle exhibit expansion

Butterflies Land at the Aquarium

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Monday, March 24th, 2014

FF-Butterfly-Stock-GettyA new exhibit takes flight this spring at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Unlike many at the popular attraction, this experience does not include scales or fins. Yet, it continues the Aquarium’s mission of inspiring conservation and appreciation of the natural world.

Visitors to the new Butterfly Bungalow delight in the beauty of hundreds of exotic butterflies from around the world. Through the encounter, guests gain a better understanding of the importance of butterflies and other insect pollinators.

“The Butterfly Bungalow and garden offers guests a wonderful, immersive experience,” said Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan. “You can’t help but smile when a butterfly floats by or lands on your shoulder. We hope it also engages our visitors in learning more about how they can help protect pollinators like bees and butterflies that are in crisis around the world.”

The grand opening event, Saturday, April 5, includes a butterfly release planned for 11 a.m. Visitors receive free, native butterfly plants to take home (while supplies last). The New Hanover County Cooperative Extension’s Ability Garden will  assist in the opening day celebration.

Butterfly Bungalow and garden begins at a pupa house where visitors view the chrysalis stage of the insects’ life cycle, when the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly occurs. A path then winds through an ocean-friendly, native-butterfly garden leading to the entrance of the Butterfly Bungalow.

Inside the Butterfly Bungalow, a greenhouse-like enclosure, hundreds of exotic butterflies fly free and land on tropical plants and, occasionally, on visitors’ heads, arms and noses. Species inside the enclosure will vary but visitors may see vibrant blue morphos (Morpho peleides) native to Latin America, emerald swallowtails (Papilio palinurus) or red lacewings (Cethosia biblis), both found in Asia, among many others.

The Aquarium transformed an empty, grassy area adjacent to the main parking lot into the exhibit space, including the garden and 1,800 square foot enclosure. The Butterfly Bungalow is a temporary exhibit and will remain open only until October 2014. Plans for the exhibit began more than 18 months ago, with construction of the temporary structure and garden started in fall of 2013.

Tickets for the exhibit are $3, general Aquarium admission is additional.


Hunt Is On At The Aquarium

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

FF-Alligator_Egg_HuntBunnies may be hopping down the trail soon, but alligators are on a roll at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. The annual Alligator Egg Hunt offers children a chance to learn, create and play this spring.

Aquarium educators introduce children to a live baby alligator and share fun facts about these amazing reptiles found in North Carolina. Kids will also create their own special alligator egg basket. Then the hunt is on for candy-filled eggs in the Aquarium’s garden.

The Alligator Egg Hunt is recommended for children ages 3-10 and limited space is available. Children ages 14 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

Dates and times are as follows:

Saturday, April 12 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Friday, April 18 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Saturday, April 19 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The program fee is $20 per child; $11 for NC Aquarium members, and includes admission to the Aquarium. Regular Aquarium admission applies to adults accompanying program participants. Preregistration is required by April 9 for April 12 programs and April 16 for April 18-19 programs. Register for the Alligator Egg Hunt here.


N.C. Aquariums fees to increase March 1

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The North Carolina Department of Natural Resources announced 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.”

Green Travel Attraction

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

NCGreenTravel_logoThe N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is recognized as a green travel attraction by the NC GreenTravel Initiative.  The Aquarium received the highest level of recognition, a three dogwood flower rating,  for its commitment to the environment and conservation. From utilities to purchasing, education to transportation, the Aquarium’s business practices were evaluated and met the program’s highest standards for a sustainable tourism business.

The NC GreenTravel Initiative is a free program of the North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service open to lodgings, restaurants, parks, attractions or other travel-oriented businesses. Tourism businesses submit an application and receive a score based on the various sustainable practices they’ve implemented. The three-tiered recognition program helps promote robust economic growth and environmental stewardship in the travel and hospitality sector.

For more information about green travel in North Carolina and the initiative visit NC GreenTravel here.


Albino Alligator Makes a Move

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

NCAFF_LunaandNaturalGatorA toothy resident of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher moved to new digs in mid-February and acquired a few new roommates, too. Luna, an albino alligator, still makes her home at the popular attraction, but now resides in the habitat traditionally reserved for natural-colored American alligators.

Luna, who previously lived alone, joined two females and one male alligator, sharing a large swimming area and lounging space. Visitors can watch as Luna and her new friends swim and float right up to three large windows, allowing all to clearly see her beautiful alabaster features from nostril to tail.

“Luna’s transition to her new space has gone well,” said Aquarium Curator Hap Fatzinger. “All the animals are currently adapting.”

Aquarium Husbandry staff did extensive research on bringing the alligators together, Fatzinger said. Based on size and gender, they are confident the animals will do well. As the dominant female, the albino alligator is six inches and sixteen pounds larger than her biggest neighbor. Luna weighs nearly 74 pounds and measures 6. 6 feet long.

Luna arrived at the Aquarium in early 2009, weighing less than 20 pounds and measuring 5 feet. She is a native of Louisiana but lived for a time at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida. She is one of only 50 albino alligators known to exist.

The space that formerly housed Luna, will undergo significant renovations in anticipation of a new bald eagle habitat.

Whale of a Weekend

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Friday, February 14th, 2014

NCAFF_WoW_WhaleStomachStThe N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher hosts the second annual Whale of a Weekend 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 1 and Sunday, March 2.

Dive into the wonderful world of whales and dolphins through hands-on education stations to engage visitors of all ages. Explore a humpback whale’s family tree. Try out a blubber glove. Join the ranks of whale superhero. Solve a mystery as a dolphin detective and much more.

In addition, marine mammal experts from around the state share their knowledge and experience.  All the fun and discovery of Whale of a Weekend is free with Aquarium admission.

Aquarium Closed Wednesday and Thursday

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher will be closed Wednesday, January 29,  and Thursday, January 30, due to persistent hazardous conditions created by severe winter weather. An assessment will be made Thursday afternoon for a possible re-opening on Friday.

Make a Play Date at Aquarium

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014


NCAFF_Outreach_StorytimeThe North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher introduces Toddler Tuesdays to beat the frosty February blahs with fish fun.

Pint-sized visitors will enjoy coloring and crafts, as well as free play with toys and books, offered in the Freshwater Wonders from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

Little ones and their caregivers can gather to hear a fish tale during a 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. storytime. A toddler–friendly dive show follows at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Toddler Tuesdays are free with aquarium admission Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25.


Aquarium Closes Early Due to Weather

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher will close today, Tuesday, January 28 at 2 p.m., due to severe winter weather conditions. The last admission ticket will be sold at 1 p.m.

Aquarium officials plan to reopen the Aquarium at noon, Wednesday, January 29, weather permitting.