Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Aquarium upholds visitation record two years in a row

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher welcomed over 500,000 visitors in 2023. (Port City Daily/File)

FORT FISHER – The Fort Fisher aquarium has again reached a record-breaking half-a -million visitors. 

READ MORE: State funding pushes aquarium closer to $30M expansion

Similar to its 2022 stats, North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher (NCAFF) welcomed over 500,000 visitors in 2023, with more than 20,000 being students.

Built in 1976, NCAFF was originally a marine science center but established as an aquarium for  public use in 1986. The 92,000-square-foot aquarium is home to 4,150 animals and 239 different species. A family of otters, sea turtles, and a bald eagle are among the animals that inhabit the aquarium. The 400,000 gallon freshwater and saltwater habitats house sand tiger sharks, sting rays, and an albino alligator named Luna. 

The aquarium also features a gift shop, which surpassed $3 million dollars in gross sales and an additional $33,111 in donations. Donations and a portion of the gift shop’s revenue will go toward the aquarium’s conservation projects, like the diamondback terrapin study, or living shorelines protection project. More information about NCAFF’s conservation efforts can be found here

The aquarium is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day. It has plans for a $30-million expansion, starting construction this year.

Tickets for entry are required here

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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