“What is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days…” James Lowell Russell
The aquarium adds to the poet’s image of June perfection with a wide assortment of activities. First up – dive into ocean conservation on World Oceans Day June 8. Enjoy sea-themed games and activities while finding out simple ways you can help the oceans and their inhabitants.
June also brings the summer schedule of daily or weekly programs, some of them staged outdoors to take advantage of the glorious weather. Programs below are free with admission or membership and begin the week of June 8.
- “Get outside and play!” is the theme for summer Thursdays. Look for animal encounters and creature features along the Marsh Boardwalk. More activities for children take place near the new TREE-mendous Nature Play Area, not far beyond the end of the boardwalk along the Hoffman Nature Trail. Activities and use of the playground are free with admission.
- Other daily programs include twice-daily dive presentations in the Living Shipwreck and animal feedings. In addition to the Thursday outdoor programs, creature features and animal encounters are offered daily at various locales throughout the aquarium. The river otters take the spotlight in morning programs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
- Take your visit to new heights with a twice-daily bird show, Bird’s Eye View, now free with admission. In addition to owls, pelicans and other raptors and water birds native to North Carolina, three sun conures take to the air in Big Rock Theater. Though native to South America, sun conures are related to the extinct Carolina parakeet. Facebook fans helped choose fitting names for the brightly colored birds – Kiwi, Papaya and Mango.
For Goodness Snakes
Pick up a floor plan to help guide you to a dozen new displays of poisonous or venomous snakes, insects, amphibians, fish and other creatures in the new collective exhibit, Venom – See Beyond the Danger.
Some of the unlikely stars are native to North Carolina. Others, such as the formidable Asian forest scorpion, are distant cousins to variations found in the state.
Learn more about the difference between poisonous and venomous, the use of these toxins to human advantage, the value of these creatures to their ecosystems and how to live in harmony with them. Also enjoy the Venom-themed word search, scavenger hunt and other activities on the reverse of the floor plan.
But Wait, That’s Not All…
Add to your aquarium experience with a variety of programs, each offered at a small cost in addition to admission, starting the week of June 8. Choose from five sessions weekly of stand-up paddle boarding – two of them customized for kids ages 6 and up. The aquarium furnishes the boards and instruction. Bogue Sound provides the saltwater and spectacular views.
Fishing, kayak and canoe excursions, marsh treks, evening beach hikes, clamming and crabbing expeditions, and other outdoor adventures also are available weekly in the summer. The activity fees cover any supplies and equipment needed.
For hot or rainy days, choose a behind-the-scenes tour that suits your interests – general tours that cover some of everything, an otter-oriented tour, one that includes feeding sharks or one that involves feeding fish. If you want more participation in backstage activities, sign up for the afternoon apprentice program.
For the small fry ages 2-5, aquarium ABCs includes outdoor activities, crafts and animal encounters. Camps for kids in grades K-8 are scheduled throughout the summer – ask about openings.
Check the website for the full activities schedule and minimum age requirements. Be sure to sign up ahead of time. Advance registration is required for fee-based programs.
The aquarium is open 9am to 5pm all summer, including July 4 and Labor Day. Save time and buy your tickets online, register for programs and view daily schedules.
The website also provides easy access to the aquarium’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites to share your photos and experiences.
The NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is 5 miles west of Atlantic Beach at 1 Roosevelt Blvd., Pine Knoll Shores, NC 28512. Hours are 9am-5pm daily. Admission is $10.95 for ages 13-61; $9.95 for age 62 and up and military; $8.95 for ages 3-12; no charge for age 2 and under and NC Aquarium Society members. State taxes are additional to fees. For more information, see www.ncaquariums.com/pine-knoll-shores or call 252-247-4003.