If you are in the Outer Banks area and you’re looking for something to do, say, for a morning or an afternoon, you might want to consider the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. North Carolina has several state aquariums and one can be found down a quiet residential road, near an airport, on the edge of Roanoke Island. It’s a small aquarium but a very nice one with plenty of things to stop and enjoy depending on your level of interest and your schedule.
There’s a wide variety of animals on exhibit at the aquarium. There are frogs, snakes, otters and, of course, plenty of fish in almost every imaginable variety. What’s really nice is how local everything on display is, it offers a direct connection to the surrounding area. There’s also a large tank, with the remains of a shipwreck in the bottom, full of sharks and larger fish. Take a seat on a bench in front of the tank and just watch for a while. It’s mesmerizing.
One of the aquarium’s newest exhibits features sea turtles and the sea turtle rehabilitation center. The Operation: Sea Turtle Rescue exhibit is interactive. You can wear a white lab coat if you like but you need to fetch a plastic sea turtle from a bucket. Then, you follow the signs from station to station. At the first station your sea turtle is scanned and its injury is identified, then you move to the second station and address the injuries, and so on. Even for adults it’s pretty entertaining and also very informative. My sea turtle required stitches for his injury. Don’t worry, he got first-class treatment and I released him back into the ocean.
There’s also a very nice deck off the back of the aquarium. If you have a license, you can go fishing or crabbing. Or you can simply enjoy the view and read the informative signs that the aquarium have erected with information about the local surroundings, the water and other topics.
North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
374 Airport Rd.
Manteo, NC 27954