North Carolina Aquarium Society
Founded in 1976, the Aquariums are an agency of the state’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. They have been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums since 1990, demonstrating their commitment to the highest standards of animal care, visitor and employee safety, educational effectiveness, and environmental conservation. The Aquariums’ mission is to inspire appreciation and conservation of our aquatic environments.
In 1986, the North Carolina Aquarium Society was formed as a nonprofit (501c3) support organization to assist the Aquariums in the fulfillment of their mission. Through a Memorandum of Agreement with NCDNCR, the Society partners with the Aquariums to raise private funds to make them better—by supporting their priorities of new exhibits, animals, education programs and conservation initiatives. The Society is led by a 45-member, statewide Board of Directors. An updated Board roster is posted on this website.
The Society generates revenue from gift shops, membership, and concessions, and also focuses on grant acquisition and private fundraising. These efforts enable the Society to work closely with Aquarium leaders to plan new projects, exhibits and programs that otherwise might not be possible with limited state funds.
Visitors enjoy the Aquariums’ gift shops and concessions— critically important components of the overall guest experience. Operated by the Society, they represent the effective working partnership found within each facility. Proceeds help purchase new animals, develop new displays, fund conservation programs and other needs. Gross gift shop sales in 2018 topped $5 million.