The aquarium is one of my favorite places. I can get there in under an hour, so it makes for a fun, spontaneous adventure! As often as I’ve been, I have never taken a behind the scenes tour. So, a couple of weeks ago, my daughter and I had the opportunity to check it out. The familiar exhibits take on a whole new light when viewed from the other side.
As soon as we entered a door with a “staff only” sign, a maze of pumps and pipes were dominant throughout. Our guide was able to briefly explain the mechanics of the operation, and I was fascinated already……. maybe it was my years at a water treatment facility before kids. The next thing we saw was the seahorse breeding tank, complete with “mood lights”. They are truly a very unique species. We also saw a jellyfish culture tank, and learned of how there are bred and sold to other aquariums, like most of the other creatures you see at the aquarium. These days, no fishing is required! The popular spot in the aquarium is the touch tank- with rays, horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, and more. They get rotated out daily so they are not so stressed from all the touching and are kept in holding tanks behind the scenes. They have a wonderful program for the turtles on our coast needing rehab, and I thought about their successes as we viewed the turtle rehabilitation tanks. Finally, we were able view the Living Shipwreck from above. It is over 300,000 gallons complete with native fish, sharks, and my personal favorite – the sea turtle! To be on top of such beautiful creatures of the sea was a really neat experience. My daughter enjoyed seeing the shark fins glide across the top of the water, and I enjoyed the beautiful sea turtle that came to the surface to wave hello.
Sometimes we find ourselves going to the same places quite often for field trips, or a day out with friends. A “Behind The Scenes” tour is a great way to change things up at a frequently visited location. Our family has a membership at the aquarium. It is well worth it, especially when the kids are older and no longer qualify for the reduced rates. Their reciprocal program is fantastic. We have used it for free admission at the NC Zoo and the Western NC Nature Center in Asheville. A membership also takes a few dollars off special activities, such as this tour and other activities they have throughout the year. I am looking forward to doing another tour soon, because it adds a whole new dimension to the trip. The NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is a great place to visit no matter what side of the glass you are on!