Ad Spot

New animals add to the experience for aquarium visitors

In the eight weeks since the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island welcomed visitors back to experience up-close animal adventures, thousands who have stopped in to see what’s new have met some animals and habitats that weren’t there before. Baby alligators, yellow stingrays and a new sea jellies viewing window are all newly-introduced additions to the aquarium inviting an even more immersive experience.

The Seven Rivers Gallery is home to four new hatchling American alligators. The foursome comes from Alligator Adventure, a partner facility in South Carolina, which provided the animals on loan to the aquarium. Baby alligators were last introduced to the aquarium four years ago with the arrival of four hatchlings that had been recovered by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission after being illegally sold online. As they matured and began to grow too large for the habitat, they were safely transferred to the same South Carolina facility earlier this year.

NCARI reports the new alligators are all responding quickly to training that helps their caretakers keep them safe and healthy.

“They are really fast at learning because they are really motivated by food,” said aquarist Connie Quattlebaum. The baby alligators can be seen actively swimming in the gallery, floating on the surface of the water or basking on rocks.

Visitors to the Sea Senses touch pools will also see some colorful changes there, as newly introduced yellow stingrays mingle with Atlantic stingrays and horseshoe crabs. The five rays have distinctive light coloring accented with spots that very closely resemble the sand on the bottom of the pool, which helps them to camouflage. Like all the rays in the touch pools, the yellow rays have their barbs trimmed regularly, but aquarist Sheena Jones says the task differs from the Atlantic rays because of the barb’s location near the end of the tail. “Yellow stingrays have short, blunt tails so they have a little more force and leverage,” Jones says. “So you have to be careful.” Still, Jones says, she and the rays have always remained safe during handling.

No longer in the Sea Senses gallery are cownose stingrays, known for their blunt snouts and sleek skin. Careful observation by the aquarium’s animal experts determined they would be better suited to larger habitats. NCARI noted that in the interest of their future health and welfare, all four cownose rays were moved to a suitable location at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk in Connecticut.

In the popular Delicate Drifters Gallery, a restored viewing window (known in aquariums as a kreisel) gives visitors a stunning view of Pacific sea nettles. Some of the few animals at the aquarium not native to North Carolina, the sea nettles nonetheless have beautiful drifting tentacles and coloration that makes them unique.

The kreisel has been under repair and renovation for nearly two years, while guests have been able to watch moon jellies and other species through another wall display and three viewing tubes. With the larger kreisel returned, the Delicate Drifters Gallery once again offers surround-style viewing of these quiet and graceful creatures.

Since reopening, the aquarium is asking all guests to purchase tickets in advance online at ncaquariums.com and to remember that cloth face masks are required inside. Meanwhile, social distancing markers and hand sanitizer stations can be seen throughout the aquarium. “These steps help provide the safest possible environment for both our guests and our staff,” said communications manager Brian Postelle. “We need our animal caretakers healthy to best provide for the well-being of all of the animals here. And we greatly appreciate the community support.”

The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is dedicated to the mission of “Inspiring appreciation and conservation of our aquatic environments.” The aquarium is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Pre-reserved tickets and cloth face coverings are required. For more information, visit ncaquariums.com/roanoke-island.

READ ABOUT MORE NEWS AND EVENTS HERE.

RECENT HEADLINES:

Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station cancels this week’s festivities

Dare County Arts Council presents Artrageous digital art show

News

Cooper lifts curfew, eases gathering and occupancy limits

News

In Nags Head: Kitty Hawk Watersports receives approval for new dock; town subsidizes recycling subscription program

Currituck

Currituck commissioners honor Judge Cole upon retirement from Superior Court

News

Nags Head Planning Board continues to refine lighting regulations, changes to UDO regarding nonconforming hotels

Crime

Federal prosecutors: North Carolina woman went shopping with $150K COVID relief loan

News

NC woman wins $139,140 Cash 5 jackpot with Online Play ticket

Business

Lowe’s fourth quarter results surge as people plow money into homes

Crime

North Carolina woman indicted in husband’s shooting death

News

Kill Devil Hills woman scores half of $536,264 Cash 5 jackpot

News

Tourism Board to help with Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station repairs

Crime

Sheriff: Twelve malnourished dogs rescued from North Carolina home

News

Cooper orders flags lowered to half-staff in remembrance of lives lost to COVID-19

News

Insurance commissioner urges caution when using portable heaters

Crime

Suspect dead, deputy wounded in gunfire during North Carolina traffic stop

News

North Carolina zoo announces death of Pigeon the red wolf

News

North Carolina weekly gas price update: Prices up again

News

Kill Devil Hills Planning Board approves parking request for hotels and motels

Currituck

Currituck Planning Board hears from Flora Farm rep

News

Two children die in North Carolina mobile home fire

Crime

Officer expected to fully recover after shooting, kidnapping suspect dead

News

Brief power outage planned for portion of Hatteras Island

News

State and local COVID-19 update

Crime

North Carolina man arrested in shooting at fast food parking lot

Schools

Columbia High School award recognitions announced