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North Carolina Aquariums
Toward a greater understanding of North Carolina's aquatic resources . . .
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What will be new when the new Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores reopens?

April 20, 2006

 

Would you believe everything?

 

New exhibits, new tanks, new graphic panels, new classrooms, a new auditorium, a new meeting room, a new gift shop, two new touch tanks, and a first-time food concession with a dining deck are just some of the spectacular additions to the new Aquarium.

 

When the Aquarium closed in January 2004, the building was gutted down to its bare bones. In its place is an entirely new structure three times larger than the previous facility. Opening date is set for May 19 and record attendance is expected.

 

The Aquarium’s new design and theme, “From the Mountains to the Sea,” is a totally new experience for visitors. New animals, among them river otters, freshwater fishes, frogs and salamanders, along with saltwater specimens such as jellyfish, stingrays, seahorses and a variety of sharks and colorful tropical fishes, provide visitors with many new creatures to see.

 

The building’s design winds through five of the state’s aquatic zones; mountains, Piedmont, coastal plain, tidal waters and the open ocean. Nearly 40 new exhibits and graphics illustrate the habitats of some 2,500 to 3,000 animals.

Otter

Fun-loving river otters are one of the Aquarium’s new exhibits.

The new Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, is set to

reopen May 19.

 

Upon entering the Aquarium, visitors are greeted by a 32-foot waterfall in the Mountain Gallery. As they embark on their journey, they meander through river systems, cypress swamps and tidal waters before reaching the open ocean, where the Aquarium’s showcase exhibit – the 306,000-gallon Living Shipwreck – is located.

 

This gigantic display has three viewing windows, the largest measuring 65 feet long, with a more than 8-inch-thick acrylic viewing window. Resting on the bottom in 16 feet of water is a replica of the sunken German World War II sub, U-352. Sharks, groupers, cobias, tarpon and other large fishes swim amid the wreckage. Another showstopper is the Queen Anne’s Revenge, a 50,000-gallon display where sea turtles, eels and large fishes swim over the remnants of what is believed to be Blackbeard’s flagship, recently discovered just outside Beaufort Inlet.

 

A new auditorium for public programs, films and other activities, and two new touch tanks, one showcasing stingrays and the other featuring conchs, crabs and other hardy but friendly critters, provide new and exciting experiences for visitors.

 

Behind the scenes, meeting rooms and a fully-equipped catering kitchen are available for weddings, receptions, reunions, corporate meetings and other public gatherings. All or part of the Aquarium can be rented through its new rental program. Outside, a soundside boardwalk and two nature trails are open to visitors.