Print
Hospitality

Aquarium Floats New Attendance Record In 2023

By Staff Reports, posted Feb 6, 2024
A volunteer helps students at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher touch pool. More than 20,000 students visited the aquarium in 2023. (Photo courtesy of NCAFF)

During 2023, half a million visitors came to the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher (NCAFF), according to a news release.

"The 502,123 visitors who came through the doors in 2023 included 20,515 students," the release stated. "The previous record for the calendar year was 483,985 visitors in 2017."

Hap Fatzinger, director of North Carolina Aquariums and former director of the Fort Fisher aquarium, stated in the release, "We look forward to welcoming even more visitors in 2024 and inspiring action to protect species."

The aquarium gift shop operated by the N.C. Aquarium Society surpassed $3 million in gross sales in 2023, an 11% increase over 2022, according to the release. A portion of the proceeds from this record-breaking number support conservation. In addition, the gift shop collected $33,111 in donations directly for the conservation work of the state's aquariums.

The 92,000-square-foot aquarium features 400,000 gallons of freshwater and saltwater habitats with a collection of 239 species and 4,150 animals, according to the release. The animals include Luna, the albino alligator; two Asian small-clawed otter families; Shelldon, the green sea turtle; two loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings; two sand tiger sharks; a bonnethead shark; and Maverick, the bald eagle.

“Because of the popularity of our animals, habitats and exhibits, anyone who wants to visit the aquarium should plan ahead and reserve their tickets online. Especially during the summer months, we have visitors who decide to stop by without tickets and find that we are sold out. We want the experience to be streamlined and special from beginning to end, so planning ahead can make all the difference,” said Joanna Zazzali, acting director and visitor services manager of NCAFF, in the release.

The Aquarium is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., only closing on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day. Online reservations are required to visit the Aquarium. Visit NCAFF admissions for tickets.

The Fort Fisher aquarium and its sister facilities, the North Carolina aquariums at Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island, opened in 1976 as marine resources centers with a combined visitation of 341,000 in their first year of operation. Jennette’s Pier, the oldest fishing pier on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, rounded out the facilities in 2002.

Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Untitleddesign7

Service Provider Selection Process for HOA Board Members: A Comprehensive Guide

Dave Orr - Community Association Management Services
Cfss headshots parker robert webversion 21422121214

Duke Energy Will Pay You Up to $9,000 to Go Solar with a Battery

Robert Parker - Cape Fear Solar Systems
Untitleddesign4

Paving the Way to Better City Streets

Tony Caudle - City of Wilmington

Trending News

Haley Promoted To President, CEO Of Wilmington Downtown Inc.

Staff Reports - Jun 18, 2024

Commercial Real Estate Firm Adds Four Partners

Staff Reports - Jun 18, 2024

Women To Watch Awards Finalists Announced

Staff Reports - Jun 18, 2024

Blue Surf Cafe To Celebrate 10th Anniversary, Add Dinner Service

Jessica Maurer - Jun 19, 2024

Proposed Castle Hayne Projects Could Bring Thousands Of Homes, Commercial Space

Emma Dill - Jun 17, 2024

In The Current Issue

Pretzel Production Presence

Drink’N Pretzel makes seasoned sourdough pretzel pieces. Officials say the company began with the mission of creating a snack that pairs wit...


Info Junkie: ChyAnn Ketchum

ChyAnn Ketchum, public information officer for the city of Southport, shares her top info and tech picks....


Startups Weigh Local Support

What do Wilmington startup newcomers moving for quality of life and proximity to the beach think of the area through a technological and ent...

Book On Business

The 2024 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2024 Power Breakfast: The Next Season