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North Carolina Aquariums Welcome to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores - Pine Knoll Shores (252) 247-4003
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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions. If you can't find the answer to your question here, please contact us and we will be happy to address specific questions.


1. What happened to all the animals that used to be at the Aquarium?

Arrangements were made to transfer some animals to sister Aquariums at Fort Fisher and Roanoke Island. Others were transported to Marineland of Florida, Virginia Living Science Museum, Carteret Community College Aquaculture Department, National Marine Fisheries Service on Piver’s Island, Catawba Science Museum and Duke University Marine Laboratory. Some animals may eventually be returned to the Aquarium, but most will be displayed by the cooperative facilities and will be traded for “future draft choices.” The Aquarium was able to keep most of its reptiles – snakes, alligators and freshwater turtles.


2. What will be the major features of the newly renovated Aquarium?

In addition to being three times larger, the Aquarium will feature exhibits and animals from across North Carolina. Mountain waterfalls, Piedmont rivers, coastal swamps, and offshore shipwrecks will be some of the new habitats. Three new classrooms and a new 150-seat auditorium will accommodate an expanded range of education programs and activities. Visitors will get a glimpse of what Blackbeard’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and the sunken German sub U-352 look like on the ocean floor. A new large gift shop, a snack bar, and expanded visitor parking will also be welcome additions.

And of course, the animals will still be the main attraction. Popular favorites like moray eels, octopus, seahorses, horseshoe crabs, sea turtles and sharks will still be featured, but new exhibits will broaden the animal collection. Plans call for a new stingray touch tank, river otter exhibit, mountain trout pool, jellyfish gallery, and sport-fishing exhibit, to name a few!


3. How are admission fees used?Will admission fees increase once you expand? All Aquarium admission fees are retained by the Aquariums to support maintenance, operations, and new exhibits. Expansion and improvements of the three North Carolina Aquariums would not be possible without these fees. When the new Aquarium reopens, admission fees will increase, though the new rates have not yet been determined. Admission will remain free for youngsters under age 6, registered school groups and Aquarium members.


4. What kind of sharks do you have, and what kind will be displayed once the Aquarium is renovated?

Sharks to be exhibited include sand tigers, sandbar sharks, nurse sharks and bonnethead sharks.


5. How long should I plan for my visit to the aquarium?

We anticipate most visitors will stay two hours or more. However, if you want to spend time on our marsh walk and nature trail, participate in a program, search for shark’s teeth in our Fossil Hunt, or shop in our gift shop, you should allow more time.


6. Is it OK to take pictures inside the Aquarium?

Yes, flash photography and videography is permitted in the Aquarium. We recommend that when photographing our exhibit tanks, position your camera at a 45° angle with the glass. Otherwise, the glass will act like a mirror and reflect your flash! Also, don’t forget to enter your fishy photographs in our annual photo contest!


7. How can I schedule a field trip or outreach program for my child’s Scout troop or school class?

The Aquarium offers a variety of program opportunities for school groups, civic clubs, Scout troops, and other groups. Some programs are offered at the aquarium (including sleepovers), and others are outreach programs, when we take live animals to classrooms across the state. Many programs require fees, and are offered on a first-come basis. For more information, check our Teachers & Students page.


8. I don’t visit the Aquarium all that often. Is membership really a good idea?

We think membership gives you great value, whether you visit the aquarium once a year or once a week. An annual family membership is $50. Among the benefits are unlimited free family admission at all three North Carolina Aquariums, free admission to the NC Zoo, and free admission to over 150 other zoos and aquariums around the country (maybe there’s one near you!). We can provide you with a complete listing of reciprocal zoos and aquariums. Members also receive discounts on field trips, programs, and gift shop purchases. Plus, your membership helps support the North Carolina Aquariums’ educational mission!


9. What do you feed your fish and when?

Our fish are fed a variety of foods designed to meet their nutritional needs. Most fish are fed daily, although smaller fishes may be fed more often, and larger ones might skip a day. Primarily we feed proteins from the sea, like shrimp, fish, squid, clams, or krill. Some animals prefer vegetable diets, but because it’s difficult to provide marine algae (plants), we substitute the garden variety and feed lettuce, kale, broccoli, peas, etc. We also make a gelatin food mixture, which includes a combination of food types, supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Our staff refers to these as turtle brownies!


10. How can I get a job or internship at the Aquarium?

The Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores will significantly expand its staff in the months leading up to its grand re-opening in May 2006. We anticipate filling new positions in animal care, dive operations, education, exhibits, maintenance, security, administration, retail operations and special events. Our volunteer staff will also increase dramatically. Internships at present are limited, however, a small number of paid internships in animal husbandry will be offered spring through fall during 2005. For more details, check our Volunteers & Jobs page.