Latest News from Pine Knoll Shores

Cakes for Conservation – a sweet salute to Earth Day

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

wl NCA-PKS Cakes for conservation - waterJoin in the sweet taste of success April 22 with the annual Earth Day Cakes for Conservation bake-off at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Following the 3:30 p.m. awards announcements, all visitors are invited to view — and taste — the creative confections.

Bakers are invited to show off their skills by depicting nature’s water cycle and the need to conserve this precious resource or means to conserve water under the theme, “water, water everywhere.” The cakes will be on display from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Soundside Hall on April 22. All entries will be made available to visitors for sampling after winners are announced in in adult and youth categories.

The Aquarium hosts the annual contest as part of a week-long Party for the Planet Earth Day celebration. Look for other activities throughout the Aquarium April 19–25. Also look for Aquarium activities at the Crystal Coast Earth Day Celebration April 25. The free event at Fort Macon State Park’s visitor and center brings together many conservation-minded organizations offering activities, music and other family fun.

For bakers:

  • Please deliver your completed cakes to the Aquarium between 3–5 p.m. April 21 or between 8–10 a.m. April 22.
  • A display card accompanying your entry is required. Please include the baker’s name, category and how the cake depicts the theme.
  • Cakes will be judged on creativity, taste, portrayal of the theme and use of local, organic and sustainable ingredients.
  • Cash prizes will be awarded in each of two categories — junior bakers ages 5–17 and adult bakers ages 18 and up: $50 for first; $25 for second; $20 for third and $15 for honorable mention.
  • Call 252-247-4003, ext. 287 if you have questions.


ECU seeks Bogue Banks participation in citizen science project

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Monday, March 30th, 2015

NC Aquarium Outreach - ECUBogue Banks residents are invited to an April 18 program at the Aquarium to learn more about an East Carolina University (ECU) citizen science project concerning episodic flooding.

ECU scientists and students will demonstrate interactive groundwater models in this informative session, 10 a.m. to noon. Residents who experience any degree of flooding when it rains -  from standing water in the backyard to flooded streets that become impassable in storms -  can explore how to contribute to ECU’s efforts by recording flooding events over time.


Safe Kids Day April 18 at the NC Aquarium

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Sunday, March 29th, 2015

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores teams up with Safe Kids North Carolina and the Pine Knoll Shores Fire Department for Safe Kids Day April 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Aquarium parking lot.

The theme is Let’s Play, and kids can enjoy activities focused on how to stay safe while having fun. Safe Kids North Carolina, housed in the NC Dept. of Insurance, will offer a variety of interactive games that teach about fire safey and home safety in general. Safe Kids also will have on hand a hot-car demonstration that dramatizes the speed at which a parked car heats up to dangerous temperatures for kids and pets left inside.

The Pine Knoll Shores Fire Department and Police Department will feature a personal watercraft used for water rescues to inspire discussions about rip currents and water safety in general.

Safe Kids activities are free.
safe kids

Aquarium welcomes new Director

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Thursday, March 19th, 2015

w NC Aquarium-PKS Director hap fatzingerThe North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores welcomes Hap Fatzinger as its new Director. He joined the Pine Knoll Shores staff earlier this month, and comes to Pine Knoll Shores after 18 years with the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

“I’m honored to be serving as Director for the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and beginning this chapter of my career along the Crystal Coast,” he said. “The Aquarium is such an amazing asset for the citizens of North Carolina. I look forward to working alongside the staff and community on creating an engaging visitor experience, and increasing our impact on conservation education.”

Beginning as a volunteer at Fort Fisher in 1996, he soon became a temporary employee and then joined the staff full-time. For the past 14 years, Fatzinger held the title of Aquarium Curator, responsible for the management of 17 staff members and nearly 4000 aquarium animals. During his tenure at Fort Fisher, he also managed and collaborated on the design and construction of major exhibits and projects.

Raised in Colorado but with strong ties to the Pacific Ocean, he traveled west to study in San Diego. He later moved to St. Thomas, and there earned a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from the University of the Virgin Islands.

The state Aquariums at Pine Knoll Shores and at Fort Fisher are under the North Carolina Aquariums Division, which also operates the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island and Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head.



Summer camp registration opens April 1 at 6 AM

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

nca-pks summer camp boy in waterRegistration for the popular summer camps at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores opens Monday morning, April 1, beginning at 6 a.m. Registrations are accepted online only. From the Aquarium’s homepage, click on Tickets and Reservations, then on Kids’ Camps. Save time and have your log-in information at hand if you have registered online before. First-time users establish log-in credentials as part of registration.

Choose from 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 in June.


TREE-mendous Nature Play playground open

News Article From: Pine Knoll Shores on Thursday, March 5th, 2015

nca-pks plaground noonGet outside and play! The new TREE-mendous Nature Play outdoor playground is open. TREE-mendous features a long swinging bridge, a treehouse lookout platfrom, a climbing net, an open slide, an enclosed spiral slide, and a ton of other neat stuff to inspire physical activity and creative thinking while enjoying  the woodland setting.

NCA-PKS climbing netThe playground, on the Hoffman Nature Trail beyond the marsh boardwalk, is a permanent addition to the Aquarium. It is open the same hours as the Aquarium — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Membership or admission to the Aquarium is required but there is no extra charge to experience the playground.


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 23 — Amos Mosquito’s, Atlantic Beach

March 30 — Island Grille, Atlantic Beach

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.