North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is one of three aquariums in the state system.  It is located in New Hanover County at the southern end of Pleasure Island, about 20 miles south of Wilmington, in the town of Kure Beach.  Located right at the point where the Cape Fear River empties into the Atlantic Ocean, the theme of the aquarium is "Waters of the Cape Fear".  Visitors will experience exhibits showcasing plants and animals that live in the Cape Fear region, from freshwater streams and inland swamps, to brackish estuaries, to coastal environments and the open ocean.  The Travel Channel recently rated this aquarium as one of the best in the United States.

Contact Information:

900 Loggerhead Road
Kure Beach, NC 28449

Phone: 800-832-3474 ext. 2


From points north, take I-40 east until it ends in Wilmington, becoming NC-132.  Continue south on NC-132 through Wilmington to where it merges with US-421 and follow US-421 south through Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.  After Kure Beach, turn left onto Loggerhead Road at the sign to the aquarium.  From points south, take the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry across the Cape Fear River.  From the ferry port, turn left on US-421 and then right on Loggerhead Road to the aquarium.


Cape Fear Conservatory

Upon entering the aquarium, the first area that visitors come to is the Cape Fear Conservatory, showcasing plants and animals that live in the freshwater environments in and around the Cape Fear River.  This tree-filled atrium houses aquariums and terrariums for bass, catfish, longnose gar, snakes, frogs, turtles, and other creatures native to the region.

Albino Alligator

One of the highlights of this area is Luna, an albino alligator.  Albinism is caused by a recessive mutation causing a lack of the pigment melanin, which gives alligators their normal skin color.  In the wild, albino alligators have little chance of survival.  Their beautiful white color provides no camouflage against predators and prey, and without melanin to protect them from the sun's harmful rays, the alligators would die from sunning themselves to warm up.  But Luna is kept in a controlled environment, protected from UV radiation, and spends her days delighting aquarium visitors.

Luna, the Albino Alligator

Carolina Bays

Carolina Bays are unique lakes found along the Atlantic coastal plain from northern Florida to New Jersey.  The elliptical lakes are aligned in the northwest-southeast direction and the origin of the lakes is not clearly understood.  Being shallow and having tannic waters, the bay lakes support unique life in the coastal plain region.

Frog in the Carolina Bay Exhibit

Marine Building

The second building of the aquarium is the marine building that has two floors of exhibits of ocean life.

External Links:

NC Aquariums website: