From hands-on touch tanks to diving with sharks, this aquarium is one of three across North Carolina, but this one is set on the Outer Banks, also known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The area earned that moniker for the 1,000-plus shipwrecks here on its treacherous shoals since the 1500s. Today’s exhibits and special programs embrace this unique setting with an emphasis on family fun for all ages.
Photo courtesy North Carolina Aquarium, Roanoke Island
North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
Families find fun and education go hand in hand at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Each exhibit carries out the aquarium’s theme, Waters of the Outer Banks.
Guests can explore ocean depths in the 285,000-gallon Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibit, with the largest collection of sharks in North Carolina — there’s an actual dive program — and a one-third-scale replica of the USS Monitor, which sank off the North Carolina coast.
In Operation: Sea Turtle Rescue, the young and young-at-heart learn how to care for these special animals by using a small plastic sea turtle — from diagnosis to treatment to releasing it back into the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.
Watch river otters play while alligators and inland turtles bask in the warm sunshine of the aquarium’s Wetlands on the Edge skylit atrium. Touch Atlantic stingrays and other shallow water dwellers as they glide slowly in the shallow waters of the Close Encounters exhibit. Discovery continues with invertebrates, featuring sea stars, sea urchins and hermit crabs.
The aquarium also offers these special activities programs: Wetlands Walk, Kayaking Around Roanoke Island, Crabbing and Night Hikes in a Maritime Forest. Bring the Aquarium to Your Cottage is the newest outreach program — it offers educational programming with specially selected animals for the entire family delivered to your beach cottage. These programs charge fees and may be purchased online at www.ncaquariums.com. Call 252-473-3494, ext. 232 to find out more about these and other special activities programs.
Have your photo taken at FotoFX for a keepsake — we have ours on the fridge. The gift shop has cool souvenirs.
The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $8 for ages 13-61, $7 for ages 62 and older, $6 for ages 3-12, and free for children 2 and under and for N.C. Aquarium Society Members.
Address: 374 Airport Road, Manteo, NC 27954
Phone: 252-473-3494 or 800-832-3474, ext. 4