North Carolina Aquariums
Have you gotten a little too much sun and need an indoor activity? Try visiting one of North Carolina's aquariums. Established in 1976, the aquariums are a division of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. There are three aquariums located along the coast, so no matter where you are enjoying your vacation, there is one near you. If you are staying along the Outer Banks on the northern coast of North Carolina, there is an aquarium located in Manteo, on Roanoke Island. If you are staying in the Crystal Coast, the area of North Carolina's central coastline, there is an aquarium located in Pine Knoll Shores. If you are staying on the southern coast of North Carolina in New Hanover County or Brunswick County, there is an aquarium located at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach, which is at the southern end of New Hanover County and just a short ferry ride away from Brunswick County.
The aquariums were established to promote an awareness and understanding of nature along the North Carolina coast. Along with this mission, aquarium employees also hope to raise awareness of the need for conservation of our natural and cultural resources along the streams, rivers and aquatic environments in North Carolina.
Throughout the years, the aquariums have been renovated and improved. All three locations have been expanded and are currently double their original sizes. The most recent location to undergo renovation was the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium, which reopened in May 2007. When they first opened, the aquariums had fewer than 200,000 annual visitors. Today, if you visit one of these three sites, you will be among the 1 million visitors who visit annually. In 2006, the three aquariums were the most visited of North Carolina's 385 museums and historic attractions.
Planning a visit to one of these aquariums? It will be hard to decide which aquarium to visit first! Since all of them contain about 3,000 inhabitants from over 250 different species, why not pick the location closest to where you are or better yet, make the rounds to all of them and see how different they are. Let's start with the northernmost site and work our way down the coast.
The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island