Thursday, July 30, 2009

MYTH BUSTED: Shark Style

Sharks have long been seen as predators of the sea and enemy to any animal or person that gets in their way. This is largely due to myths. Shark myths have caused countless people to fear these creatures, and in more drastic cases, the water itself. Myths range from falsehoods about shark attacks to the notion that sharks are considered “eating machines”. In celebration of Shark Week, July 26-31, lets bust a few shark myths!

One big myth that scares people from ever stepping foot in the open ocean is that sharks intentionally seek out human prey. There is no research that shows that sharks intentionally go after humans. Most scientists believe that the rare attacks that do occur are a result of mistaken identity. Humans may appear to be a seal, fish, or sea turtle in the water, which can cause a shark to bite. One fact to bust this myth is that out of an estimated 80 million water-activity participants each year, only a handful are victims of shark attacks. MYTH BUSTED

Surfing is a favorite pastime in the coastal area, yet some surfers live in fear every time they paddle out due to the myth that sharks go after surfboards. Although there is some truth to this myth, it is only for certain shark species. Great white sharks look at silhouettes from below, and surfboards appear to resemble a seal, walrus, or sea lion, which could cause an attack. Surfers are more likely to be injured from their own boards. MYTH BUSTED

Have you heard the myth that sharks do not have enemies? We heard this myth and immediately knew we had to bust it! Orca can occasionally kill sharks, along with parasites that take the lives of countless sharks every year. Public enemy number one goes to humans, who kill an estimated 73 million sharks a year. The shark-finning trade has placed several species of sharks in grave danger of extinction. Thanks to humans, this myth is totally BUSTED

So the next time you feel trepidation rising when entering the open sea, remember that most of your thoughts are myths that we have BUSTED.

*Picture thanks to Aquarium photo contest submission
*Shark myths thanks to The Discovery Channel

Monday, July 27, 2009

Did you know?

Sharks may be feared by most people, but once they learn about them the fear turns into fascination. Sharks are sleek, amazing creatures that get a bad rap because of the occasional shark bite. Truth be told, you have a better chance of being injured by falling out of bed or being stung by a hornet, then being bitten by a shark. Sharks are so amazing that they even have a week named after them, so in celebration of Shark Week, July 26-31, here are a few fun facts about the ocean’s top predators.

- Sharks main habitat is the ocean, yet several species of sharks can be found in rivers

- No two sharks are alike, they adapt their appearance to fit their environmental conditions

- Sharks have seven senses, and some of those senses are said to be better than many mammals

- Sharks can see better in the dark than cats

- Sharks can detect heartbeats through their electrosense

- Shark’s skeletons are made of cartilage instead of bones

- They produce in two ways; some bear their pups alive and others lay eggs

*Picture taken by Chris Walker

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fewer Sharks to See in the Sea

A major conservation survey reveals startling results: a third of the world’s sharks face extinction. Sharks including great whites and hammerheads, that are hunted on the high seas are particularly at risk and are endangered due in part to overfishing. Over 100 million sharks are caught in commercial and sport fishing every year, which has caused a decline in several species including the great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, great white, and basking sharks. The report showed that multiple types of sharks have declined by more that 80 percent in the past decade.

Since sharks have relatively few young and are slow to mature, it is difficult for the populations to keep up. There are currently no restrictions or laws on the number of sharks that can be caught by fisheries in the high seas, which leaves them practically unprotected. We must place better guidelines on these sleek creatures before they are erased from the waters forever. The extinction of sharks would be detrimental because they play an important role in the ocean food chain and help balance the ecosystem. This is important to the survival of all organisms because they all depend on each other to maintain the balance. Species that sharks feed on will begin to overpopulate, which will in turn decrease the population of other species. This will ultimately send the ecosystem into a tailspin of destruction.

In celebration of Shark Week, July 26-31, our blog will focus on issues related to sharks. Shark Week, a product of The Discovery Channel first aired in 1987. It is a week-long series of feature television programs dedicated solely to facts and information about sharks.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Camper Chronicles: Week Four / Day 5

On the final day of Circle of Life camp the camper’s reflected on their favorite experiences while at camp. Although each camper seemed to have a different experience that they enjoyed the most, canoeing to Zeke’s Island seemed to be the biggest hit. Here is what they wrote.

Maddie, “The best part about being and Ocean Explorer was canoeing to Zeke’s Island.”

Jonathan, “The best part of camp was when we went canoeing to Zeke’s Island.”

Jenna, “The best part of camp was doing crafts every day.”

Ali, “My favorite part of camp was when we went to the beach because I love jumping in the waves.”

Charles, “My favorite thing I did this week was going to the rocky outcrop.”

Yasmine, “My favorite part of camp was when we went to Zeke’s Island.”

Mary, “My favorite part of camp was when we went to Zeke’s Island. I found lots of shells. They had a very cool tidal pool. That was awesome!”

Ashley, “This week was so much fun! We went to the beach, rocky outcrop, salt marsh, and Zeke’s Island. I hope to come back soon!”

Camden, “My favorite part of this week was going to Zeke’s Island and canoeing.”

Camper Chronicles: Week Four / Day 4

The fourth day of Circle of Life camp the campers learned about reptiles, and their circle of life. Enjoy!

Camden, “Today I learned that if the box turtle’s eyes are red or yellow it’s a boy, and if the eyes are brown it’s a girl.”

Jenna, “Today I learned that alligators eat other alligator’s babies.”

Ali, “I learned how to tell crabs apart from boys and girls.”

Yasmine, “Something I learned is that all reptiles shed their skin.”

Ashley, “Today I learned that the box turtle’s eyes can tell you their gender! Males have red or orange eyes and girls have brown!”

Mary, “I learned that turtles are connected to their shell. That’s so cool!”

Maddie, “Today I learned that all reptiles shed something.”

Jonathon, “I learned that reptiles have backbones and turtles shells grow like their body.”

Stay tuned for the Ocean Explorers final day of camp!

Camper Chronicles: Week Four / Day 3

Day three of Circle of Life camp involved a canoe ride over to Zeke’s Island to swim and search for animals in the salt marsh. Here is what they had to say about their experience.

Yasmine, “One interesting experience I had today was when we went to Zeke’s Island and saw a dogfish shark.”

Cammie, “The coolest thing I saw today was a little dog shark.”

Jenna, “Today I went swimming in a swimming hole on Zeke’s Island. We canoed to get there.”

Ashley, “Today we went to Zeke’s Island, and we saw a small dogfish shark! It was so cute!”

Ali, “A fun, interesting, and good experience was when we went to Zeke’s Island and swam.”

Charles, “The coolest thing that happened to me was seeing a dogfish shark.”

Maddie, “I had fun canoeing because it was my first time. I had a blast swimming.”

Mary, “Today we canoed to Zeke’s Island. In the tidal pool there was a small dogfish shark. It was soooo cool!!”

Jonathon, “We went crabbing and swimming, and we caught the biggest crab ever, plus I overcame my fear of canoes.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Touch new animals at the touch tank!

Two new additions have a new home at the Aquarium. Short-spined sea urchins and flat-clawed hermits were welcomed into their new habitat this week.

The short-spined sea urchin is commonly found along inshore shallow water areas and sandy bottoms. They have short spines, and can adorn themselves with debris to provide protection from predators. Flat-clawed hermits live from sub-tidal areas to the low tide line along the Atlantic coast. They are unusual because they are not striped like most hermit crabs. They are a pale off-white color, and have two unequal in size flat claws that lock together to form an operculum when the crab withdraws from its shell.

Next time you walk by the touch tank, make sure to stop by and ask a volunteer to point out the new inhabitants!

*Special thanks to Melissa Johnson for the information
*Picture from

Camper Chronicles: Week Four / Day 2

Day two of Circle of Life camp was a wave-riding, anklet making, fun-filled day for the campers. After spending the morning splashing around at the beach, the campers created anklets and learned about the animal life cycle. The campers were in agreement that the beach was awesome! Here is what they had to say.

Cammie, “My favorite part of the day was making an anklet.”

Yasmine, “My favorite part of the day was when we went to the beach because we body surfed waves.”

Ali, “My favorite part of the day was when we went to the beach because the water was very cool and refreshing.”

Ashley, “My favorite part of the day was making an anklet so I can wear it all the time.”

Jenna, “My favorite part of the day was going to the beach because it was so much fun.”

Charles, “My favorite part of the day was going to the beach because I love to swim.”

Jonathon, “My favorite thing today was crafts because I learned how to make an anklet.”

Maddie, “I loved the beach today because I’m a water bug and I love jumping over the waves.”

Mary, “My favorite part of the day was when we went to the beach. I love the sea breeze in my face.”

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Camper Chronicles.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Camper Chronicles: Week Four / Day 1

Ocean Explorer (ages 10-12) campers at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher enjoyed their first day of "Circle of Life" themed camp. Here, they blog about their day:

Yasmine: "The funniest thing that happened today is when Ashley put seaweed in my hair."

Charles: "The funniest thing that happened today was when my foot hit a crab and I jumped 6 feet out of the water."

Camden: "The funniest thing that happened today was I was walking in the marsh and fell in a hole. And I kissed a crab too."

Ashley: "Today I kissed a fish and a crab today, it was so funny! I also put seaweed on Yasmine's head and took a pic!"

Stay tuned for day two...wonder what they will do??

Monday, July 13, 2009

Camper Chronicles: Day Five

It’s the end of the road for the Circle of Life campers. On their final day they reflected about the adventures and activities they completed throughout the week.

Zachary, “Camp was really, really fun. I made a lot of new friends. We got to do a lot of cool things. I liked petting the animals and I liked all the other things we did. Overall I thought camp was really cool. Thank you Ms. Jenny and Mr. Andy for bringing us to all of the cool places we went and for doing all the fun things you planned with us. Thank you.”

Scott, “I liked going to the beach and playing in the sand. I made a big fortress. It had a wall to keep the flood from getting to it, and it had another wall protecting it. Then we had to go and a wave messed it up.”

Tate, “Camp was a great experience because I got to make friends and learn about aquatic life. I also liked going to the beach and stuff.”

Mikaela, “Camp was cool because I learned new things. One of the things that I learned was that a crab was an invertebrate.”

Alex, “Camp was great because I met new friends.”

Jonathan, “This camp is really, really cool. You get to go behind the scenes and catch stuff, and learn cool facts!!!”

Nathan, “I’ve learned a lot because we do so much. I think everyone that likes marine animals should come.”

We will miss you campers! Stay tuned for a new round of guest authors on the Camper Chronicles.

Camper Chronicles: Day Four

Day four of Circle of Life camp revolved around learning about different animal life cycles. The campers learned about the lives of jellyfish and sea turtles. This is what they had to say about what they learned.

Zachary, “I learned that the life cycle of jellyfish is similar to the life cycle of an Anemone.”

Tate, “Today I learned about the sea turtle life cycle, the turtles go where nobody knows.”

Scott, “I learned that a turtle’s brain is very small, and I learned how to find a sea turtles nest. I also learned about other sea turtles, and that the female is the only one that does on land. “

Jonathan, “I learned that the middle of the turtle life cycle is a mystery.”

Alex, “I learned about the life cycle of a jellyfish and turtle.”

One camper was simply amazed with the sculpture on display in the front of the Aquarium.

Nathan, “I learned what was made out of metal outside. They are Spadefish.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fort Fisher Saves on Water!

Congratulations Fort Fisher for reduced water usage by 13% for the fiscal year 2008-2009. 680, 000 gallons of water were saved, which is a 49% reduction from our base year of 2004. Using less water resulted in a savings of $6,821, which is awesome! A standing ovation goes out to all the Aquarium staff and volunteers for their water conservation efforts.
*Image from

Camper Chronicles: Day 3

Day three of Circle of Life camp was filled with sand, waves, and fossils. The campers ventured out to the beach in the morning, and dug in the fossil pit in the afternoon. Here is what they had to say about their day. Enjoy!

Scott, “The funniest thing I did was go to the beach. I made a fortress but it was torn down by a wave. Then I caught a fish, and then I put it in a bucket. Then we had to go back to camp.”

Alex, “I liked going to the beach today because I got to jump in the waves. “

Nathan, “My favorite thing was the beach because I jumped in the waves.”

Jonathan, “The best thing today was the fossil pit because I found a bunch of shark teeth.”

Zachary, “The funniest thing I did today was going to the beach. I liked going to the beach because I got to go boogie boarding. I caught a lot of big waves.”

Mikaela, “The funniest thing I did today was doing an anklet because I got to have a shark tooth.”

Tate, “My favorite thing that happened today was when we went to the beach and played in the ocean.”

See you tomorrow for day four of this week’s Camper Chronicles.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Camper Chronicles: Day 2

Day two of Circle of Life themed summer camp was exciting and humorous for the Ocean Explorers. They learned all about crabs by going crabbing, and having an animal encounter with a hermit crab. They seem to love their camp experience! Enjoy reading what they had to say.

Zachary, “The best part of my day at camp was when we went crabbing. I caught a blue crab.”

Scott, “My favorite thing was crabbing. The funniest thing was the hermit crab trying to flip over. My favorite animal is a crab. I think summer camp rocks.”

Nathan, “Going crabbing was my favorite time today. So far this camp is awesome.”

Alex, “I really like this camp. The counselors are great.”

Mikaela, “I have the best counselors in the world. Their names are Andy and Jenny.”

Jonathan, “I liked fishing, swimming, and this is the best camp in the world.”

Most campers enjoyed crabbing the most today, but Tate got a good laugh out of the hermit crab encounter, which Ms. Renee projected on an overhead screen. This is what he had to say.

Tate, “What the funniest thing that happened was when Ms. Renee stuck her eyeball in the overhead projector, and when the hermit crab went to the bathroom on the screen.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Camper Chronicles: Day 1 starts the Circle of Life

The start of summer camp this week marked a new chapter of the Camper Chronicles, with the focus on the animal circle of life. The first day of camp for the Ocean Explorers was adventurous, after learned about invertebrates, the campers set off to the Rocky Outcrop to search for the creatures. This is what they had to say about their journey. Enjoy!

Jonathan, “I learned that a blobby purple animal we found is a rubbery bryozoans.”

Alex, “I learned the life of a jellyfish.”

Nathan, “I learned that rubbery bryozoans are real. I learned that moon jellies don’t sting.”

Mikaela, “I learned that crabs are invertebrates.”

Zachary, “Today I learned that certain types of jellyfish don’t sting you. One type of jellyfish that don’t sting you are moon jellyfish. We got to pet a moon jellyfish.”

Tate, “I learned about the rubbery bryozoan, which is a blobby gooey animal.”

Scott, “I learned that the moon jellyfish do not sting. I also learned about other invertebrates, and I learned that jellyfish bring the food right to their stomach.”

Stay tuned for tomorrow when the Ocean Explorers continue their guest writing for the Camper Chronicles!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Camper Chronicles: Day five

The last day of camp was bittersweet for last week’s summer campers. As they wrapped up time at the Aquarium, they reflected on their adventures. Here is what they had to say about their experiences.

Teddy, “Today we went on a tour/scavenger hunt for critters in the aquarium.”

Spencer, “Today was the best day of the week because we did a scavenger hunt.”

Ben, “I liked everything at camp. The coolest thing was the sea turtle.”

Maddie, “My favorite thing about camp is that there are so many nice people. Every day I laugh so hard I forget what I am laughing at. I love Aquarium camp.”

Rachel, “This whole week has been very exciting and a great experience for me. The going behind the scenes, and being able to look at the animals up close. I think that I’ll never be able to look at the aquarium the same again.”

Max, “This week we did a lot of things in camp. We did everything from going to the beach to going behind the scenes. I have learned a lot about animal senses and a lot about myself. Aquarium camp rocks.”

Melissa, “This past week has been very fun. We went on a bunch of adventures that I really enjoyed. My favorite thing we did all week was going behind the scenes. It was awesome.”

Ashley, “Today we had cake and ice cream, it was very good!!!”

Stay tuned for a new round of Camper Chronicles this week with all new guest writers.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Camper Chronicles Day Four: The Animal Encounters

The campers have been introduced to several interesting animals throughout the week. For the blog today they wrote about their favorite animal. Enjoy reading what they had to say!

Teddy, “I never knew a snake can smell through his tongue.”

Rachel, “My favorite animal in the aquarium is Luna the albino alligator. She is so cool being albino, and also having red eyes.”

Maddie, “Today my favorite animal I got to see was the sea anemone. When I put my finger in it, it would close up. It’s a really cool creature.”

Melissa, “Today I learned that mosquitoes find you by smelling the carbon dioxide you breathe out. So cool!

Max, “One interesting fact that I learned is that non-venomous snakes have solid colored eyes and venomous snakes have slits in their eyes.”

Ben, “I learned that sea turtles go lay their eggs where they were born.”

Other campers just enjoy splashing around in the water.....

Spencer, “The best part was going to the BEACH!”

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Camper Chronicles: Day Three

Day three of camp and the Ocean Explorers spent the morning at the beach, then took a behind the scenes tour and did crafts.

Enjoy reading about their experiences below.

Maddie: "My favorite part of the day was the craft. We made picture frames out of the shells we collected at the beach. It was so fun."

Melissa: "My favorite part of the day was when we went to the beach and found shells. It was so fun relaxing and playing in the ocean!"

Ashley: "We went to the beach and made picture frames!"

Teddy: "Today, I went to the beach and played in the water."

Rachel: "The best thing today was going to the beach. The waves were huge and pushed us over. We also found tiny hermit crabs."

Max: "On the 3rd day of camp we went 'behind the scenes' in saltwater quarantine. We saw many cool fish."

Ben: "The coolest thing was the saltwater quarantine."

Spencer: "The best part today was making picture frames and decorating them with seashells."

Camper Chronicles: Day Two

Summer campers at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher are learning much, meeting new friends and having fun! Below are their day two blog entries.

Rachel: "The best part of today was canoeing to Zeke's Island. I got to be on the front of the canoe and killed myself rowing in the heat. On the island, we swam and saw a little shark.

Ashley: "The height of my day was that we saw a cute baby shark on Zeke's Island. It couldn't have been more than a week old!"

Teddy: "The best part of the day was when we used our sense of smell to see what kind of jelly bean we are eating."

Maddie: "My favorite part of the day was when we went canoeing and swam at Zeke's Island. We swam in the tide pools and saw a baby shark. It was awesome."

Max: "On the 2nd day of camp, we made snakes out of toilet paper rolls. I had a lot of fun making mine with feathers and crazy designs."

Melissa: "The most fun thing that happened to me today was when we did the jellybean activity. It was so fun to do and it was very, very funny."

Ben: "The coolest thing that happened was that we caught a shark and let it go."

Spencer: "The best thing that happened today was practicing our taste by eating jellybeans."

Camper Chronicles: Day One

Summer camp is under way at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, and the kids are all smiles. The second week of camp began on Monday with an inside day full of fun! This year instead of journal time, the Ocean Explorers, ages 10-12, will be guest authors on the blog. Each day they are asked to write a few sentences about their day or experience…we hope you enjoy Camper Chronicles!

Teddy wrote, “Today I saw the coolest thing. In the conservatory there is an Albino Alligator.”

Maddie wrote, “The funniest thing that happened to me today was when we went to meet Wilson the Wood Duck. I was kind of scared when she told us that we were going to be feeding him. I was sitting down and suddenly he ran at me and chased me.”

Ben wrote, “What I think about summer camp. I really like it here at summer, especially Luna the Albino Alligator.”

Melissa wrote, “My favorite activity in summer camp was when we met Wilson the Wood Duck. He ate out of my hand and pecked me! It was so funny!”

Rachel wrote, “The funniest thing that happened today was when we went blue crab fishing at the saltwater marsh. When I was pulling in the rig I fell forward, but I put my hands forward before I landed in the mud. The mud was so black that it could be ink.”

Spencer wrote, “The best thing that happened today was having popsicles.”

Max wrote, “On the first day of camp I saw many amazing animals. My two favorites were Luna the albino alligator, and Wilson the Wood Duck. We got a sticker from Luna, and we got to feed Wilson out of our hands.”

Stay tuned for more fun filled quotes written by the Ocean Explorers on the Camper Chronicles.