Latest News from Fort Fisher

Luna Hits Double Digits

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Thursday, April 30th, 2015
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Luna now measures 6.6 feet long and weighs 68 pounds.

Luna, the albino alligator living at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, celebrates a major milestone soon. Staff and visitors will celebrate her 10th “hatchday” over Memorial Day weekend.

Luna arrived at the Aquarium in early 2009 at the age of four and immediately wowed visitors. Though she weighed less than 19 pounds and measured only 4.6 feet long from snout to tip of tail, she stood out with her unusual white coloring.

Left alone in the wild, the albino alligator would not survive. Yet, at the Aquarium, Luna has thrived.

“Initially, Luna had to be sensitized to natural sunlight,” said Aquarist Julie Johnson. “Staff also worked patiently to train her to be hand-scrubbed in order to remove algae and dirt on a regular basis.”

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Luna with NCAFF Aquarist Julie Johnson in 2009.

For several years, Luna lived alone in a habitat and could often be seen warming herself on a log. In February 2014, staff decided to move her into a larger habitat with several natural-colored American alligators. She now shares a swimming area and lounging space with one male and two females.

“They get along well, and in the larger exhibit Luna has the ability to do more swimming,” said Johnson.

Because of the exhibit’s large acrylic viewing panels, visitors can at times get eye-to-eye with Luna. Many repeat Aquarium visitors marvel at how much the animal has grown. During her most recent physical in April, Luna weighed in at 68 pounds and measured 6.6 feet long.

During Memorial Day weekend, guests can sign a birthday card celebrating Luna’s 10th hatchday.

Mother’s Day Treat

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Monday, April 27th, 2015

NCAFF_MotherSon_CFSLet the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher help share the love with mom this Mother’s Day.

Aquarium admission is free for all mothers on Sunday, May 10. Create memories while strolling through the gardens, catching a dive program or meeting a sea turtle. Make the day more special by treating mom to a Mother’s Day Brunch and take-home craft 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The prix fixe menu, catered by Bon Appetit, includes meat lovers and vegetable quiche, mini fruit kabobs, finger sandwiches, cashew-encrusted chicken fingers and pasta salad. Cost for the brunch is $24 per adult, $22 for children 3–12, $5 for two year olds, and free for children one and younger. N.C. Aquarium Society members are $13 and children two and younger are free. Reservations are required for the brunch. Space is limited. Click here to make a reservation for Mother’s Day Brunch.

In addition, various tours and classes are offered during the holiday weekend including Surf Fishing and Behind the Scenes tours. For more information, pricing and registration for tours visit http://www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher.

 

 

Lorikeets Land at Aquarium

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Monday, April 6th, 2015
Lorikeets flock to eat nectar offered by two young guests at the new Lorikeet Landing at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Lorikeets flock to eat nectar offered by two young guests at the new Lorikeet Landing at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Fins and feathers now flock together at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. A new interactive, live-animal exhibit featuring lorikeets opened April 4, 2015.

 Visitors delight in admiring small, tropical birds perched on vines. The birds display feathers in dazzling color combinations from brilliant blues and greens to reds and yellows. Guests may purchase a cup of nectar to hand-feed these winged beauties. The free-flying birds land on arms and hands (and sometimes a head) to drink up the sweet juice with their unique brush–like tongues.

“’Lorikeet Landing’ continues to tell the story of valuable pollinators in nature,” said Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan. “Feeding a lorikeet is fun and exciting and will help guests make a personal connection with this beautiful and important species.”

Aquarium staff worked for months planning and preparing the aviary space which temporarily housed exotic butterflies in 2014. “Lorikeet Landing” is situated in a natural area adjacent to the main Aquarium and surrounded by an outdoor garden. The interior consists of hanging vines, trees, flowers and grasses.

Lorikeets, tropical birds from Australia, perch on a vine in a new exhibit at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Lorikeets, tropical birds from Australia, perch on a vine in a new exhibit at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Lorikeets belong to the parrot family and average around 10” tall. Their natural habitat is tropical forests in Australia. In the wild, lorikeets face predators such as falcons, pythons, humans capturing the birds for the illegal pet trade and habitat destruction from logging and agriculture.

“Lorikeet Landing” is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. now through September, weather permitting. The exhibit closes 12:30–1:30 p.m. daily for the health of the birds. Admission to the exhibit is $3 per person; nectar cups are $1. General Aquarium admission is not included.

 
 
 

Science Exploration Made Fun at Aquarium

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Friday, March 27th, 2015

FamilyScienceDayThe North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher hosts Family Science Day on Sunday, April 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Family Science Day will include science exploration and discovery for adults and children of all ages. As many as two dozen regional organizations will help guests discover the wonders of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). Demonstrations will include remotely operated vehicles, robots and Legos. No Sleeves Magic will present “The Science of Magic.”

“We are excited to connect our visitors with real science taking place in our community,” said Aquarium Educator Megan Ennes. “We want everyone to know that science is fun and has real applications in our everyday lives.”

As an official 2015 North Carolina Science Festival event, the Aquarium’s Family Science Day is among hundreds of community-based events showcasing STEM activities for the citizens of North Carolina.

Family Science Day is free with paid Aquarium admission.

Community partners scheduled to attend Family Science Day include the New Hanover County Arboretum, Army Corps of Engineers, Bricks 4 Kids, Cape Fear Audubon Society, Cape Fear Community College, Cape Fear River Watch, Center for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CE STEM), Cape Fear Museum, Children’s Museum of Wilmington, the Center for Marine Science and Technology, North Carolina Coastal Federation, DREAMS of Wilmington, Fort Fisher Recreation Area, FrogWatch USA, Marine Quest, New Hanover County Soil and Water Conservation District, Sea Biscuit Bird Rescue, University of North Carolina Wilmington Math Preservice Teachers, Museum of Coastal Carolina, UNCW Coastal and Marine Educators, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team, Plastic Ocean Project, Inc, Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville and Wired Wizards.

Founded in 2010, the North Carolina Science Festival is the first statewide science festival in the United States. During a two-week celebration each spring, the Festival brings hundreds of events (hosted by schools, colleges, libraries, museums, parks, businesses and other community organizations) together under one banner to recognize the economic, educational and cultural impact of science throughout North Carolina. The Festival is presented by Biogen Idec Foundation and produced by Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For more information, visit www.ncsciencefestival.org.

 

Sea Turtles Return to Health and Sea

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

NCAFF-ColdStunnedRelease1Staff of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher recently prepped a group of temporary residents for a road trip to Florida. The group was expected to experience warm temperatures and lots of swimming. Yet, a wild spring break wasn’t the objective.

Five strong and healthy Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles made their way from Kure Beach to Cape Canaveral Thursday. Their chaperone, Sarah Finn, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission biologist, picked the group up and headed south driving them more than 600 miles. Their stay on the beach was brief, with all five turtles released from the beach into the warm ocean.

The endangered sea turtles were part of a mass cold-stunning event of more than 1,000 sea turtles along the New England coast in late November. They arrived at the Aquarium ill from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures of the northern Atlantic. The extraordinary number of rescued turtles required extensive collaboration with wildlife organizations and aquariums around the country offering space and resources to care for the sick turtles.

The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher cared for a total of 22 turtles. Several did not survive their injuries, while others were released off the N.C. coast in recent months as their health dictated.

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Initial rehabilitation plans estimated short recuperation times. Yet, many of the animals were more seriously injured than originally thought Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan said.

“Aquarium staff provided the turtles with more than five hours of daily care, special diets and close monitoring,” said Sloan. “It has been a tremendous amount of work, but in a crisis of this magnitude it is our responsibility to do whatever is needed to save these endangered turtles.”

The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher does not routinely rehabilitate sea turtles, but works closely with the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail, the Aquarium’s sister facilities in Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island and other facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to offer assistance when needed. The Aquarium receives no additional funding or staff to assist in the turtle care.

Volunteers Honored at Aquarium

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Time, dedication and willingness are hallmarks of a committed volunteer. The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher recently hosted the annual Volunteer Appreciation and Awards Dinner to celebrate the hundreds of individuals who selflessly assist with Aquarium operations on a daily basis. More than 490 volunteers donated 29,888 hours to the Aquarium in 2014.

Dan Bennett (l) wins 2014 Volunteer of the Year honors at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner hosted by (r) Volunteer Coordinator Dan Radley.

Dan Bennett (l) wins 2014 Volunteer of the Year honors at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner hosted by (r) Volunteer Coordinator Dan Radley.

Dan Bennett won the top honor of 2014 Volunteer of the Year. Bennett, an Ogden resident, divides his time between Education, Outreach and Special Events. Bennett began volunteering at the Aquarium seven years ago. He’s taught guests about the mysteries of horseshoe crabs, dressed as a sea turtle to thrill crowds and assisted with events large and small including Trick or Treat Under the Sea.

“Dan is selfless, passionate about the Aquarium and deserving,” said Volunteer Coordinator Dan Radley. “He has even recruited family members to join the Aquarium team.”

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Volunteer Coordinator Dan Radley recognizes Aquarium Volunteer Tim Wright for his more than 555 hours of service in 2014.

Tim Wright of Wilmington was also recognized at the dinner for contributing the most individual volunteer hours in 2014, with 555 hours. Wright won Volunteer of the Year in 2013. He can often be seen talking with guests from inside the Cape Fear Shoals habitat while swimming with sharks during daily dive shows.

“We aren’t the Aquarium without our volunteers,” said Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan. “Each year we acknowledge these individuals who exemplify commitment, teamwork, creativity, enthusiasm and love for the Aquarium.”

 

Lorikeet Landing Opens This Spring

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

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Alligator Egg Hunt

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

FF-Alligator-EggHuntBunnies 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. Next 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, March 28 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Friday, April 3 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Saturday, April 4 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The program fee is $20 per child; $11 for N.C. Aquarium members. Regular Aquarium admission applies to adults accompanying program participants. Preregistration is required by March 25 for March 28 programs and April 1 for April 3–4 programs. Register for the Alligator Egg Hunt online here or by calling (910) 458-8257.

 

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 www.CharityNavigator.com.

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.

Aquarium Leads FrogWatch USA Volunteer Trainings

News Article From: Fort Fisher on Monday, February 2nd, 2015

tree frogsStaff at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher hope to enlist the help of volunteers to gather information about local frog and toad populations as part of FrogWatch USA. The citizen science program provides individuals, groups and families with an opportunity to learn about wetlands in their communities, recognize the unique calls of different species and report data on the calls of local frogs and toads.

“We are excited about getting FrogWatch Volunteers out into the community, helping us to collect information about the types and amounts of frogs we have around Southeastern North Carolina,” said Aquarium Outreach Coordinator Andy Gould. “Amphibians are important species to keep an eye on, because they are very sensitive to changes in their environment. If we see them in our area, it means that our habitats are healthy and thriving. If we notice their absence, we may want to look further into potential causes.”

Trained volunteers collect data at a local wetland site from February through August and submit the data online. No previous knowledge of amphibians or scientific background is required and free training is provided.

“Being a FrogWatch Volunteer is an excellent way to explore the great outdoors and gain a closer connection with nature, even if you have a demanding schedule or are low on time,” said Gould. “You will also be contributing to our statewide and national understanding of amphibian health and conservation concerns.”

Those interested in becoming FrogWatch USA volunteers can register for a single training workshop that includes fun activities and hands-on demonstrations. Workshops will be held 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays, Jan. 31, Feb. 21, March 21, April 18 and May 2. Space is limited to first 30 registered participants. For additional information and to register click here or call (910) 458-8257 x. 236.