North Carolina Aquarium near Fort Fisher
North Carolina’s best aquarium is right here on Pleasure Island!
Spend an afternoon at the AquariumWhen you take your family on vacation to Carolina Beach or Kure Beach you know you’ll get sand, sun and surf. You’ll find some great seafood restaurants and maybe even take a walk out on one of our two fantastic piers. But did you also know that we have the North Carolina Aquarium right here on our little island? It’s down toward the southern end, just past historic Fort Fisher and it’s the perfect place to take a break from the hot sun. Spend an afternoon walking around the aquarium and enjoy both the aquatic life and the air conditioning! You can even enjoy lunch at the aquarium.
Rebuilt and Better than EverThe aquarium is a North Carolina treasure for sure. Years ago it used to be a very small, unassuming building and they didn’t charge admission. My wife and I would take our girls there all the time when they were little for just the price of a donation. We’d go every summer, sometimes more than once a summer, and we always took family when they were in town visiting. A number of years ago the North Carolina Aquarium completely rebuilt the facility here, and today it's a showplace for all varieties of marine life. The aquarium is also an educational setting to learn all about our native sea creatures. It’s no longer free but it’s definitely worth the price of a ticket. We still go there every year.
You cannot miss Luna the Albino AlligatorMy daughter Kayla volunteered at the aquarium during the summer two years ago as part of her community service requirements for college. She got to spend time with Luna, the albino alligator. Luna, like the moon, is a radiant site to behold. We are lucky to have her, as albino alligators are very rare. Luna the Albino Alligator was given to the aquarium after she was displaced by hurricane Katrina. She is one of only 50 known to exist, and Luna even has her own Facebook page!
Do the Touch Tank!If you ask Kayla, her favorite part of the aquarium is the touch tank. She enjoyed working there and telling visitors all about the sea creatures that filled the touch tank. It includes local wildlife, horseshoe crabs, stingrays, snails, and starfish. Children can reach in and feel the prickly back of a starfish or the sticky tentacles of a sea anemone. If you’re lucky, you might be there when they’re feeding the horseshoe crabs. That’s fun to watch. The touch tank is always a favorite of an aquarium visitor and believe it or not, it’s the adults who are afraid to touch the sea creatures!
As a Boy Scout leader, I've taken my troop to the aquarium several times. The boys and I love to watch the trainers feed the large alligators. They get right inside the large tank with them and stand so close to the edge of the water that it’s scary. They feed them chicken and the alligators can’t seem to get enough. Check the aquarium’s on-line calendar of events while you’re on vacation. It’s a must see.
One item on my agenda for this summer is for me and Kayla to join the aquarium on one of their sponsored kayak trips over to Zeke’s island. It’s a small island on the southern tip of Pleasure Island and you spend the day roaming the uninhabited, isolate beaches learning about flora and fauna.