Gallons of Fun
DON’T JUST SIT around all day July 4 waiting for the fireworks to start. The aquarium is open 9am to 5pm on the Independence Day holiday. Dive into gallons of family fun, indoors and out, any day you visit. Animal feedings, live-animal programs, animal encounters and dive programs are offered twice daily, free with admission. River otters Pungo, Neuse and Eno star in otter programs four days a week. Check Discovery Classroom for crafts and activities for the younger set.
Harmony, not Harm
July de-fangs some of the myths surrounding a few of nature’s most feared creatures. The annual Shark Week, July 25-Aug. 1, mixes fun with facts about these misunderstood animals, often depicted as ruthless killers. Shark Week programs and activities take the opposite tack, highlighting the harms humans can do to the ocean’s top predators, and the positive role sharks play in ocean ecology.
It doesn’t have to be Shark Week for you to see big sand tiger sharks in the Living Shipwreck, and learn more about them during dive presentations offered twice daily. Shark Week and dive presentations are free with admission, as are twice-weekly shark feeding programs. Sign up for a behind-the-scenes view of shark feeds for additional fees.
The new Venom: See Beyond the Danger exhibit offers safe vantages to admire venomous and poisonous creatures, while learning how to live in harmony with them. The exhibit also illuminates research into the medical value of toxins these animals use for defense or for immobilizing prey.
Venom is a collective of exhibits around the aquarium, including the Marsh Boardwalk. Watch for individual displays of poison dart frogs, giant scorpions, pufferfish, lionfish, spiders, fire ants and, of course, snakes, to name a few. Venom is free with admission.
The TREE-mendous Nature Play playground, new this year, features a treehouse platform, climbing net, two slides, a swing and other opportunities for children to enjoy the outdoors. The playground hosts scheduled “creature feature” animal programs and other activities under the Get Outside and Play theme featured every Thursday throughout the summer. Use of the playground and activities are free with admission. TREE-mendous is on the Hoffman Nature Trail, just past the end of the Marsh Boardwalk.
Flights of Fancy
Enjoy a glimpse of life on the wing with the Bird’s-Eye View program, free with admission twice a day. Three colorful sun conures join the cast of native raptors and water birds to deliver conservation messages along with loads of family enjoyment.
Make a splash during your vacation with the aquarium’s stand-up paddle boarding adventures. The aquarium provides the boards, expert instruction and information on the flora and fauna surrounding you as you explore Bogue Sound. This experience is available five days a week, including sessions geared to kids.
If you’d rather sit down for the scenery, take a paddle trip along the shores of the Roosevelt Natural Area. Also enjoy sessions on catching crabs and clams, a marsh exploration and an evening beach expedition focused on sea turtles. For oceanside action, sign up for a surf fishing primer.
To get out of the sun or rain, choose from a number of behind-the-scenes tours. These include a tour focused on the river otters, one on feeding the fish and another on feeding sharks, in addition to big-picture views. See the website for the full selection and the schedule. These activities require fees in addition to admission and advance registration – sign up early, as they fill quickly. Online registration is fast and easy.
The aquarium is open 9am-5pm daily. Admission is $10.95 for ages 13-61, $9.95 for military and age 62 and over; $8.95 for ages 3-12. Children 2 and under and NC Aquarium Society members are admitted free. State taxes are additional to admission. The aquarium is 5 miles west of Atlantic Beach; the address is 1 Roosevelt Blvd., Pine Knoll Shores, NC 28512. See www.ncaquariums.com/pine-knoll-shores or call 252-247-4003 for more information.