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From Resource Centers to NC Aquariums

The three North Carolina Aquariums and Jennette's Pier fall under the state division of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. All three Aquariums are accredidated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. All four facilities are Kulture City certified and NC Green Travel certified.

On September 17, 1976, the state of North Carolina opened three North Carolina Marine Resources Centers – one at Fort Fisher, one at Pine Knoll Shores and one on Roanoke Island. The centers were launched as research and education facilities, which also offered small exhibits that were open to the public.

The centers quickly became popular, and in 1986, they were renamed the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, and the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. That same year, a group of dedicated citizens incorporated a membership-based support group, the North Carolina Aquarium Society.

Attendance continued to soar. In 1996, the State launched a plan to triple the size of the crowded and aging facilities. The Aquarium on Roanoke Island unveiled its renovation in 2000, Fort Fisher followed in 2002, and Pine Knoll Shores reopened after renovation in 2006.

Jennette's Pier was the first fishing pier on the Outter Banks when it was opened in Nags Head in 1939. In 2003, the pier was sold to the North Carolina Aquarium Society so that it might be developed into an educational outpost for the Aquarium. It was renovated after Hurricane Isabel and on May 21, 2011, Governor Beverly Perdu christened a newly renovated Jennette's pier as an official fourth facility in the North Carolina Aquariums division.