NCAFF Blog

NCAFF Blog

Children watching otter enrichment at the Aquarium

Oskar the Goliath Grouper Getting Special Care

Oskar, our beloved goliath grouper is now residing in a behind-the-scenes habitat under the care of the Aquarium veterinarians and our animal experts. The team is treating Oskar for swelling to the right eye. Oskar was at a transition point in care at the Aquarium, joining us in 2009 as a baby fish (fry), and is not returning to the Blockade Runner. Once cleared by the veterinary team, Oskar will begin a period of training to prepare to move to a new home in the Cape Fear Shoals... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Tuesday, Nov 22, 2022
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SEA Us in the Holiday Parade

Have you ever seen a shark out of water, a shuffling eagle or a cruisin' gator? Aquarium enthusiasts, here's your chance to catch us on the road in the 2022 Island of Lights parade, Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. Staff and volunteers look forward to this island tradition.  Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Tuesday, Nov 15, 2022
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Raise a Glass & Funds for Sharks!

Our team and special guest, Paul Cox, CEO of The Shark Trust, host SUDS FOR SHARKS Thursday, Nov. 17, 6-8 p.m. at Flying Machine Brewing Company. Shark talk and shark giveaways will energize you to support shark conservation in support of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums SAFE: Sharks and Rays. There are more than 1,200 species of sharks and their relatives, skates and rays reflecting a huge diversity in biology, behavior and habitat. An estimaed 1/3 of shark species are threatened... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Monday, Nov 14, 2022
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Yearlings Depart for Ocean

Following more than a year at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, the beloved loggerhead sea turtle yearlings, Hatch and Journey, will be released to the ocean. These two ambassadors for sea turtle conservation came to the Aquarium as hatchlings last fall, having not made the initial trek to the ocean from the nest. Under the care of the husbandry team and veterinarians, the hatchlings grew and developed into yearlings, and are now ready to set off on their own.  The... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Wednesday, Nov 2, 2022
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Honoring our Maritime Forest with Cleanup

We do not take the privilege of working in a maritime forest for granted and take special care of the road and waterways that make Kure Beach and Fort Fisher so special. Keeping our roadsides clean — clearing discarded plastic bags and bottles from the maritime forest that surrounds the Aquarium is very personal to our team. Even on a foggy morning, we fanned out to pick up and keep the litter out of our ocean and waterways. Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Thursday, Oct 27, 2022
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Oldest Aquarium Otter Undergoes Dental Procedure

Asta, our 14-year-old Asian small-clawed otter is resting behind the scenes following a visit from a dental team who performed an extraction of two lower canines. The dentists sutured closed the extraction sites to prevent any food or dirt from entering the pockets. We are happy to report that she came through like a champ and her son, Ray, is comforting her as she recuperates. The otter team is managing her pain and she is acting like she is ready to swim and explore her... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Thursday, Oct 27, 2022
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Festival of Trees

No where else does the brilliance of the holiday season harmonize with breathtaking aquatic life to create such a magical experience as the Festival of Trees. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is excited to welcome back the 2022 Cape Fear Festival of Trees from Nov. 18-Jan. 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sponsored by First Citizens Bank, the 2022 event will feature 54 trees beautifully adorned by generous sponsors supporting Lower Cape Fear LifeCare Foundation. Admission to... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Monday, Oct 24, 2022
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National Marine Sanctuaries Turn 50

North Carolina Aquariums join with aquariums across the United States to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Marine Sanctuary System. Right here on the North Carolina shore, the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is among fifteen national marine sanctuaries. From the Florida Keys to Stellwagen Bank, from Thunder Bay to Monterey Bay — these sanctuaries are home to extraordinary species and some of the nation’s most iconic seascapes.  Monitor National Marine... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Monday, Oct 24, 2022
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Otter Pups at 5 Months

The Asian small-clawed otter pups turned five months old on Oct. 21! All three pups are each just shy of four pounds—by comparison mom, Leia, weighs just a little more than six pounds. These bundles of energy are growing up so fast and they aren't slowing down.  Enrichment toys and other items, including palm fronds have been a great way to engage the pups, and visitors enjoy watching their antics as they play tug-of-war.  Catch up witth the pups in person by... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Friday, Oct 21, 2022
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Veterans Day at the Aquarium

Thank you to all our Veterans and their families! The Aquarium will honor military families on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11 with complimentary admission. Holidays and special days sell out quickly at the Aquarium. We look forward to our special guests and want your visit to be exceptional. Please make sure to reserve your tickets in advance of your visit. Find out more and plan your trip by visiting Veterans Day Complimentary Admission . Please don't forget to pack military ID cards... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Wednesday, Oct 19, 2022
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Welcome Tiny Wonder

Sea turtle hatchlings capture the hearts and minds of visitors to North Carolina beaches—these two-inch hatchlings, weighing less than a half-pound, can create a powerful connection. For the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher (NCAFF), sharing these tiny ambassadors with visitors amplifies our mission to inspire appreciation and conservation of aquatic environments. For decades, the Aquarium team has taken i n hatchlings that did not make the initial trek to the ocean. Near the... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Monday, Sep 26, 2022
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Encore! Encore!

Adding just the right harmony to the mix, North American songbirds are among the creatures in the natural environment that is home to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher (NCAFF). While strolling the grounds, visitors will definitely get an earful and may even spot some of these crooners. There is also a viewing window inside the Aquarium equipped with binoculars for opportunities to see many different species of birds in their natural habitat. Keeping them singing is important to... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Monday, Sep 26, 2022
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Women in Science Day

Women in Science 2022 Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. hosted by the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher (NCAFF) continues to be a favorite event for both exhibitors and visitors. Sixteen organizations participated with 70 individual exhibitors engaging with 2,100 visitors at the  Aquarium for the event. Many attendees told us they made special plans to visit for the event. We started the event in 2019 with an in-person showing but then switched to... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Sunday, Sep 18, 2022
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Meet Stella, Mae & Selene

They're "otter this world" adorable and now they have names! The three female otter pups born May 21 at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher are Stella, Mae and Selene—names chosen by more than 14,000 online and in-person voters. The easiest way to identify them is by the color and shape of their noses: Stella: full brown nose  Selene: pink spot under her left nostril. She also has a small brown freckle Mae: very dark nose, with a small spot... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022
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Otter Pups Emerge

Today, the three Asian small-clawed otter pups are three months old, and they're exploring their space. Never straying too far from mom and dad, Leia and Quincy, the trio of fantastic females are trying out new things, swimming in the pool and playing with pup-proof objects in the public habitat. Some lucky visitors have had an opportunity to enjoy their fun and frolicking nature. Being pups, sometimes they retreat to the den for a nap. Please reserve your tickets to the Aquarium... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Sunday, Aug 21, 2022
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Name the Otter Pups

LET'S CHOOSE PUP NAMES They've been stealing hearts with their cuteness and inspiring us with their resilience—our three female Asian small-clawed otter pups are growing up fast and we're ready to give them names! That's where  you come in. Please see the four choices in groups of three and select your favorite. HOW DO I VOTE? You can vote in person at the Aquarium using our QR code on the screens, or at our voting booth at the Otters on the Edge... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
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Summer Camp Finishing Strong

Summer camp at the Aquarium sometimes pushes young campers to try new things and test their strengths on exciting adventures! Wednesdays are canoe days and today, 11 campers fully embraced the experience. Canoeing from the Basin to Zeke's Island, campers delighted in a well-deserved plunge into the refreshing natural pool. Staff are focused on creating unique and exciting experiences for campers as the Aquarium counts down the final days of summer camp.  Hermit and fiddler crabs... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022
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Course Boils Over with Excitement

Coastal Conservation Course  Most people say it is on their bucket list—watching sea turtles hatch. It is an elusive one to catch. Thirteen educators in a coastal conservation course led by Gail Lemiec, NCAFF unique experiences coordinator and Emily Abernethy, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area park ranger, were lucky enough to experience this amazing phenomena. The group from North Carolina and Virginia signed up for the course to learn more about sea turtle... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Monday, Aug 1, 2022
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Pups Expanding Taste Palate

What's on the menu?    The three female Asian-small clawed otter pups are now eating very small amounts of peeled shrimp and smelt. They are not weaned yet and still rely on their mother, Leia, for their nutrition. Quincy, their father, is introducing them to new foods and one other important otter skill—swimming. The otter team placed a shallow tub of water in the habitat and one otter pup has learned to close off her ears and hold her breath underwater.... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Thursday, Jul 28, 2022
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Plastic Free July®

Plastic Free July® is a global movement that challenges millions of people to be part of the solution to plastic pollution. The Aquarium staff and volunteers are passionate about reducing plastic use in our personal and professional lives. We're excited to share tips, ideas and resources for visitors and the community to incorporate simple steps to eliminate single-use plastic. Whether you're just getting started or taking your plastic free game up a notch, take note of some of... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Monday, Jul 25, 2022
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Lionfish Surgery

North Carolina Aquariums' veterinarians made their rounds at the Aquarium on Tuesday, July 19 and among their priority cases was a lionfish. The team performed surgery on one of the two lionfish in the Exotic Aquatics habitat to treat a prolapse. They administered anesthesia through the gills flowing into the fish's mouth and over it's gills. Quite the showstoppers, the lionfish at the Aquarium help us share an important message about how an invasive... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Wednesday, Jul 20, 2022
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Vulnerable Species

Can’t Get Enough of these Pups! Cute, adorable and sassy – much to the excitement of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, the three female Asian small-clawed otter pups are on target in their growth and development. Fragile at birth, the pups, born on May 21 to first-time parents Leia and Quincy are hitting big milestones and not slowing down. Eyes opening and teeth coming in are now overshadowed by the latest development—Quincy is teaching them otter skills, even... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Tuesday, Jul 19, 2022
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Sassy & Sensational

The three female otter pups born May 21 are on the move and nothing is stopping them now! They have reached several developmental milestones — they opened their eyes, they are mobile when parents, Leia and Quincy bring them out of the nest, their teeth are coming in and they are increasingly vocal. While visitors can't yet see them in the public habitat, they may be able to hear them behind the scenes! NCAFF director, Hap Fatzinger, had a moment to check out these very new... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Wednesday, Jul 13, 2022
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Maverick is Back!

Maverick, the rescued bald eagle, is splashing in the pond and perching on the branches in his Aquarium habitat following nearly six months behind the scenes protected from the threat of avian bird flu. In our care since 2014, Maverick was found in Wisconsin suffering a broken wing and unable to fly. He was relocated to the Aquarium serving as a symbol of our nation and as a conservation messenger about habitat loss, wildlife rehabilitation and endangered species.  "He immediatley... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Tuesday, Jul 12, 2022
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We love Sharks!

          Celebrate alongside the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher for 31 Days of Sharks & Rays in July. These magnificent creatures play a critical role in a healthy ocean ecosystem. Shark & Ray Awareness Day is July 14, an important time to spotlight collective and individual actions to protect them. At the Aquarium, our focus on sharks and rays is ongoing and with community support, we can successfully achieve our science-based... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Thursday, Jun 30, 2022
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She Who Chirps the Loudest

When it comes to conservation of a vulnerable species, hearing the chirping sounds of a new crop of Asian small-clawed otters is music to our ears. The otter team weighed and measured the three female otter pups at 38 days old. This followed an exam by the Aquarium veterinary team. They are growing and developing — at this stage of their development, that means teeth are coming in and eyes are opening. New parents Leia and Quincy continue to be... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Wednesday, Jun 29, 2022
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Immersive and Memorable

Summer Camp is underway with children soaking up every moment and even encountering creatures they never expected to see, much less touch. The Madagascar hissing cockroach is definitely one memory of summer camp they won't forget.  The hissing cockroaches are among the many different animal encounters campers will experience during the camps which run Monday through Friday. The team of special activities instructors are committed to creating a unique experience for each camper and... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Friday, Jun 24, 2022
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Otter Pup Journey

The NC Aquariums veterinary team examined all three otter pups today and they are reported in good condition. Dr. Emily Christiansen listened to their hearts and lungs. She also performed an oral exam and they're teeth are coming in. Two of the three pups have signs that their eyes are beginning to open. They are also holding their heads up well and have nice clear vocals! Follow their journey on  Facebook  and  Instagram . ... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Thursday, Jun 23, 2022
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Summer Interns at the Aquarium

I am Haven Guinn. I am interning in the education department at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher this summer. I am from Red Springs, North Carolina, and a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. My major is biology with a double concentration in zoology and environmental science. Part of my job this summer is helping with the different programs that the aquarium offers, like the habitat chats, otter enrichments, and creature features. I also get to help... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Thursday, Jun 23, 2022
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Aquarium Educators Lead Trip to Baja Peninsula

Aquarium educators create immersive experiences in ways that make the greatest impact on the mission to inspire appreciation and conservation of aquatic environments. Teachers take the learnings they glean from our team to further amplify messages with students and other learners. In some cases, it's not your ordinary field trip! Aquarium educators Gail Lemiec and Casey Radley are leading an amazing group of educators in an up-close and personal ecology course on the Baja California... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Tuesday, Jun 21, 2022
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Habitat Loss Remains a Threat to American Alligators

Do you have a favorite float? Our horticulture team built a floating wetland with hibiscus and other native plants—it has quickly become a favorite for this 3-foot American alligator. This initiative to introduce more native plants to the wetlands provides cover for native animals and protects fish from predators. Plants also serve as a natural filter for the water. While, we wish all alligators could be free to float and bask in the sun, this species is negatively impacted by several... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Friday, Jun 17, 2022
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Day 26 Otter Pup Journey

  Milestone Alert It's been an exciting journey for our three Asian small-clawed otter pups. The three female pups reached an amazing milestone on day 26 — they are beginning to crawl! These amazing pups continue to inspire us. This is a vulnerable otter species because of deforestation, the illegal pet trade, pollution, climate change, and poaching. We hope they inspire our visitors to take individual action to make a difference in protecting Asian... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Thursday, Jun 16, 2022
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Welcome Governor

Staff and volunteers have a lot to celebrate these days — the birth of three otter pups, the summer tourism season and plans for renovation and expansion of the Aquarium. We welcomed Governor Roy Cooper and Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson who engaged and explored alongside hundreds of visitors on Wednesday, June 15. The Governor announced an additional $10 million in state funding to support a $30 million Aquarium expansion and renovation.... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022
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Day 18 Otter Pup Journey

Three otterly adorable Asian small-clawed otter pups born on Saturday May 21, continue to grow and gain weight. They weighed the equivalent of two slices of bread when they were born, so it has been heartening for our team to witness Leia and Quincy succeed as first-time parents. They remain behind the scenes with their parents. Otter pups are dependent on their parents to eat and learn otter skills. Leia and Quincy need a safe and restful space to succeed as first-time... Read More
Posted by Dey Rossell at Tuesday, Jun 7, 2022
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