Roanoke Island Aquariums
The first stop will be The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. This site is located on Airport Road, approximately 3 miles north of Manteo. The aquarium is adjacent to the Dare County Airport and the Croatan Sound. The facility is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., year round. There are only three days that it is closed, which are Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Martin Luther King Day and Veteran's Day are free days for all visitors. Otherwise, admission is $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors and $6.00 for children ages 6-17. Children 5 and younger are free. Also, if you are a member of the North Carolina Aquarium Society, your admission is free. School groups that register in advance during the school year are also given free admission, as well as their chaperones and bus drivers. Admission fees help support maintenance, operations and the development of new exhibits. All facilities and exhibits are wheelchair accessible. The aquarium also has two wheelchairs available for free visitor use. Outside food is not permitted in the aquarium, but there are snack and soft drink machines outside by exit doors. During the summer, staffed concessions are available. The North Carolina Aquarium Society operates the gift shop. Visitors can purchase posters, games, books, field guides, CDs, T-shirts, jewelry and unique items. They accept Visa, American Express, Discover, Master Card and personal checks. Shop proceeds are used to support the aquarium programs. All types of photography are permitted in the aquarium.
There are many thrilling exhibits to experience in the The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Upon entering the aquarium, you will pass through the "Coastal Freshwaters" exhibit. In this exhibit, you will see a wide variety of animals that live in the nearby freshwater streams, ponds and creeks. You can watch river otters play in a replica of their natural environment. Try and count all of the turtles you see as you pass through this wonderful, indoor nature preserve.
The next stop in your adventure will be "Wetlands on the Edge." Here, you will stroll through an indoor marsh and see the alligators lazing around in the sun. You will feel as though you are outside as you wonder through the atrium enclosed in glass which allows plenty of trees and grasses to grow. Watch the endless number of fish swim in ten different tanks that take you from ankle deep ocean waters to the Gulf Stream.
One of the most interesting exhibits in this aquarium is the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." This is a huge tank filled with 285,000 gallons of saltwater with a scaled down model of replica of the USS Monitor, which actually lies just off the Cape Hatteras coastline but is located 210 feet under water. In this tank, large sharks, sea turtles and hundreds of other fish, all native to the waters off the coast, can be viewed by aquarium visitors. All of these wonderful and amazing creatures swim behind 5.5 inches of acrylic window, which is 35 feet long and 14 feet tall. The window wraps over your head and offers you an overhead view of the tank's inhabitants.
While you are strolling through all of these exhibits, take notice of the signs that state feeding times. Each day, different animals and tanks are fed at varying times, making it possible for visitors to catch at least one feeding. Other daily programs include videos on marine life, live animal programs and more. A touch tank for the children allows them to experience the wonders of the wild up close and personal. If you have any questions, one of the knowledgeable staff members or volunteers is ready and willing to answer any of your questions. Don't forget to visit the gift shop, where a selection of Roanoke Island gifts and souvenirs are available for sale.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores