Thursday, December 30, 2010

Walk Down the Aisle, Leaving No Footprint Behind

Make your wedding day even more special by putting a smile on Mother Nature’s face while celebrating your big day! Creating a green wedding is simple, fun, rewarding, and will allow you to take your first steps as a married couple without leaving a large footprint on the Earth. Below are a few tips on how to make your wedding more environmentally friendly:

~ Flowers: Flowers are transported long distances or flown in for weddings. To reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to create the perfect bouquet, try using flowers and greeneryfrom family and friend’s gardens. Using flowers from a relative or friend’s garden will not only keep the cost of your flowers down and give your flowers a special meaning; it will also help reduce the environmental impact of your special day.

~ The Vehicle: Limousines can guzzle gas by the minute, opting to use an older car that has been converted to diesel fuel is an excellent idea to spice up your wedding day and help fight gas emissions. Try renting a vintage car, such as a Mercedes or Bentley, which will keep you looking luxurious but minimize your effect on the planet.

~ Invitations: Invitations are a necessity, but why waste paper when you can create your own personalized website for people to learn all about your impending nuptials? Another idea to help save on paper involves using recycled paper and using the back of the invitation as the envelope. Websites such as offer several options for recycled paper. Also, use soy and vegetable oil based ink instead of regular ink to help reduce the amount of petroleum used in your wedding planning.

~ Food and drinks: Purchase organic, locally sourced foods whenever possible for your big day. Buying local will not only help the small businesses in your area, it will also cut the cost of food transportation. Choose catering options that buy local produce and serve organic products in order to make your event more eco-friendly. Using organically produced foods uses 15% less energy. Serve local beer and wine at the reception, research wineries and breweries in your area and use their products for your special occasion.

~ Dress: The dress is the most important and stressful parts of wedding planning for the bride. Instead of purchasing a new dress, purchase a vintage dress or wear a dress that has been passed down from your family. If you are set on buying a new dress, find companies who use organic fabrics and “peace silk”, which is made from silkworms that live out their life cycle.

~ Gifts: Most couples already have all the household items they need, so many are opting to have guests donate money to their favorite environmental charity. Couples can set up an online account with most charities allowing guests of the wedding to make donations to a chosen organization.

~ Honeymoon: Taking the perfect honeymoon can become expensive and stressful when trying to do research where to go, book flights, hotels, and take vacation time at work; instead of traveling out of the country, research exciting places around the United States that are within driving distance or a short flight from where you live. The United States has amazing and beautiful scenery waiting to be seen on your honeymoon. If you do fly, plant a tree upon your return to offset your fossil fuel use!

~ Ring: The perfect ring does not always have to be new, purchasing a vintage ring or a family heirloom can be just as beautiful and environmentally friendly as well. If you are going to purchase a new ring, make sure to research conflict free diamonds.

~ Confetti: Confetti contains dyes and bleaches which can have harmful environmental effects, try instead throwing linseed or sunflower seeds. As an added bonus, you can send you guests home with seeds they can plant themselves!

By using these environmental wedding tips, you and Mother Nature will be smiling brightly on your wedding day!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Aquarium Hosts Valentine Dinner

Celebrate each other this Valentine’s Day at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. “That’s A Moray!” is an exclusive evening for just 26 couples, featuring a four-course dinner, a souvenir photo and dancing while surrounded by the magic of the ocean. Private tables for two will be placed in front of captivating exhibits such as Cape Fear Shoals, Sharktooth Ledge, Hawaiian Fishes, and Moon Jellies.

Couples may reserve the table/exhibit of their choice on a first-come, first-serve basis. For the private or engagement minded couple, one exclusive table boasts its own dining room and personal view of the Cape Fear Shoals Exhibit in the “A Moray” Eel Cave with elegant décor.

The evening’s menu, prepared by Thyme Savor Catering, will feature an appetizer of seasonal fruit, cheese, and crudité vegetables; Caprese salad; and choice of braised beef short ribs in chocolate sauce over red bliss smashed potatoes, Coq au Vin (classic French chicken dish) cooked in red wine with pearl onions, mushrooms and bacon over smashed potatoes or vegetarian entrée of homemade sweet potato gnocchi with julienne roasted vegetables in a champagne sauce. Afterwards, satisfy your sweet tooth with mini pastries. An extended beverage selection will be offered as well.

Afterwards, dance the night away to classic love songs played by Active Entertainment. Spend the night on the island: the Courtyard by Marriott - Carolina Beach (910 458-2030) is offering winter rates for the evening and the Aquarium will shuttle guests to and from this rendezvous point.

“That’s A Moray” is Monday, February 14, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. The all-inclusive price is $200-$300 per couple, dependent on table location or $400 for the “A Moray” private dining room. For reservations, call (910) 458-8257, ext: 218 or 202 or email or

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Picture Perfect Event…Under the Sea

Looking for the perfect place to have your dream wedding, holiday party, prom, or other special event? Look no further, the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is just the place for you! The Aquarium is available for rental during and after-hours. The spacious facility can accommodate up to 250 seated or up to 2,000 strolling guests and your event can be held indoors or outside on the nature inspired garden deck.

Finding the perfect location to hold a wedding or special event can be a time consuming project, which can hinder the planning process from progressing forward. Let the Aquarium’s special events department make it easy for you to host your special event.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is one of the most enchanting places to hold a fairy tale wedding under the sea or a holiday party sure to have people talking all year long. Your special day will be held among breathtaking fishes and exotic animals that create a magical underwater atmosphere. Guests can be seated in front of the 235,000 gallon Cape Fear Shoals exhibit, which harbors an assortment of magnificent fish and aquatic life. Activities such as, the touch tank or a dive show can be added to make your event even more memorable.

The Aquarium, which was just voted a 2011 “Best of Wedding” vendor by The Knot magazine, is now offering a 10% discount for events everyday other than Saturday. Events held by government agencies, schools, nonprofit organizations, and several other organizations may be eligible for a discount on their rental.

The Aquarium also offers a smaller space for meetings, awards ceremonies, and lectures. Treat your guests to a unique experience as they explore the Aquarium before or after the event is complete.

For more information about renting the Aquarium visit:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Time for Turtles on the Two’s!

It is time to celebrate turtles…all year long! The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher will be promoting Partners in Amphibians and Reptiles Conservation’s (PARC) 2011 Year of the Turtle by offering special turtle programs the second day of every month starting on January 2, 2011.

Turtles on the Two’s will focus on turtles, both freshwater and saltwater species. The Aquarium’s feedings, live animal encounters, crafts and educator interactions will look at different aspects of turtle’s lives and will be available throughout the day. Visitors will gain a better understanding about turtles, and see why these shelled animals are so loved at the Aquarium!

The US has more turtle biodiversity than any other country on the planet, but turtle population worldwide have declined up to 40%. Turtles face threats including, habitat loss and degradation, mortality from roads and predators, exotic invasive species and disease, and climate change. PARC, which is an inclusive partnership dedicated to the conservation of reptiles and amphibians believes that citizens, natural resource managers, scientists, and the pet and food and related industries can work together to address issues and to help ensure long-term survival of turtle species and populations. In an effort to raise awareness about turtles and their importance in the world PARC and organizations, such as the Aquarium, will be promoting the Year of the Turtle all year long!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Taking on the Climate

For Megan Ennes, educator at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, the environment is always on her mind. While completing her master’s degree at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Megan decided to create a project that would take on the mysteries of our ever changing climate. She is working with Coastal America and four students from Isaac Bear Early College High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. She and the students have been invited to the Coastal America 3rd Student Summit in Washington D.C. in April where they will present their completed project. For the summit, an action plan associated with the third ocean literacy principle: “The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate” had to be created. Megan’s team focused their project on how the changing climate also impacts the oceans. The team will be looking at unique habitats in the Wilmington area and how they will be affected by sea level rise, changes in precipitation, and other climate related factors.

The team has been on several trips to visit diverse habitats and learn about the threats that each habitat faces. They have toured the Cape Fear River with Wilmington Water Tours, where they talked about sea level rise and salt water intrusion. They met with professors from UNCW to discuss the importance of barrier islands, problems they are facing, climate change, and the importance of the maritime forest on Bald Head Island and what lies ahead for them with the increase in sea level. The group also met with the Cape Fear River Watch to discuss why the river is so vital to the area. The team’s latest trips have been to the Aquarium at Fort Fisher, where they learned about cold stunned sea turtles and different aquatic environments, and to Holly Shelter, where they learned about longleaf pines and endangered species in the area.

All of these trips have been building up the minds of the students whose ultimate plan for this project is to create a video about what climate is, how it might be changing, what impacts we could see in the Wilmington area, and what we can do to help. The film will be premiered after its completion and the ticket sales will benefit a local marsh or estuary, since a healthy habitat is one of the best ways to offset the problems associated with climate that will impact the Wilmington area.

The completed project will be featured at the summit in Washington D.C. in front of 19 other student delegations and members of congress. Following the summit, the students will create a proclamation for Congress about actions they believe is necessary to take in order to manage the problem of climate change.

For the students working on the project, this experience has been an extreme eye-opener. They are learning new information about their local area that they weren’t aware of before. Megan most enjoys seeing the light bulbs turn on in the student’s minds as they go through this journey.

In the end, the project will yield an excellent educational tool for schools to use in an effort to discuss climate change with their students. For further information about the project visit: or

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nature Swap

Need a reason to get outside? Participate in the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher’s Nature Swap by first exploring together outside. Do you find objects in nature, such as interesting shells, bones, egg cases, rocks, pine cones and other treasures? If you enjoy exploring natural areas such as beaches and forests, and collecting found treasures, come to the Aquarium to share and swap.

Nature Swap showcases natural objects, such as shark teeth, skulls, and shells. You can learn more about natural objects from Aquarium staff by examining their collection, and by bringing in your own finds. And, you can acquire points for your treasures to use in trade for another item of equal or lesser value. If something rare catches your eye you can accumulate points by bringing different items until the value you cache equals the item of interest.

Nature Swap provides a great excuse to explore outdoors however, you are encouraged to do no damage while collecting treasures, and to follow a few guidelines established by the Aquarium:
~Earn points for each item you bring, for a maximum of 3 items per day.
~Earn extra points for doing some of your own research on the item you found.
~Your item must be cleaned and in good condition.

Acceptable items include:
~Clean bones, antlers, teeth, claws, skullsSnake sheds, eggs, and rattles (found in nature)Sand, interesting rocks, fossils, invertebrate molts, eggs cases, shellsCasts of animal footprintsPreserved plant parts, pine cones

Items the Aquarium won’t accept include:
~Items from the Aquarium grounds
~Bird parts, feathers, eggs, or nests
~Alligator parts or mounts
~Live plants
~Sea turtle parts
~Marine mammal parts

Look for Nature Swap across from the Touch Tank. Aquarium members can participate in Nature Swap again and again with free Aquarium admission. Non-members must pay admission to access Nature Swap for each trade.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Aquarium Comes to You…with a Discount

Can’t find time to make it to the Aquarium? Let it come to you! The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is offering a 10% discount for outreach programs held during the months of January and February.

Outreach programs are perfect for schools, civic groups, churches and festivals. Fun filled education programs include live animals, props, costumes, and hands on activities that create a memorable experience for all ages.

Each interactive program is designed specifically to fit your needs based on age, size, and focus of your group. Preschool and daycare programs are designed to foster appreciation of the environment, and are tailored to shorter attention spans. Elementary, middle, and high school programs are created to fit North Carolina state science requirements. Middle and high school programs can be tailored to fit specific curriculum needs. Special needs programs give children with disabilities the opportunity to experience the outdoors without the challenge.

Book an outreach for the months of January or February and receive a 10% discount on your program. New themes have been added to the list of programs, including Jammin’ Jellies and Wild Wetlands. During Jammin’ Jellies participants will learn about one of the most numerous animals in our waters and find out about the important role they play in their ocean habitat. Participants will explore the jelly life cycle through interactive activities and props, and even get to meet some live critters in the Cnidarian family! During the Wild Wetlands program groups will meet some of our North Carolina wetland inhabitants and find out why it is so important to protect this unique habitat. This program includes live wetland animals, such as a wood duck, alligator, snake, turtle, and bullfrog.

For further questions or to book an Outreach program, contact 910-458-8257 ext. 236 or via email at

Friday, December 10, 2010

Aquarium Honors Employees

The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher honored its employees this month by awarding its annual Sea Star and FISH™ Philosophy awards. These awards honor a permanent, temporary or seasonal state or society employee that has gone above and beyond their usual job responsibilities to make the Aquarium a better place to work and visit.

Hap Fatzinger, Aquarium curator won the Sea Star award and Exhibits Technician Chad Goodson was awarded the FISH™ Philosophy award. Employees are nominated by their peers and are awarded $250 from the N.C. Aquarium Society, a recognition plaque, dinner for two at Carolina Ale House or Jack Mackerels, and recognition in Aquarium News magazine.

FISH™ Philosophy award nominees included: Angie Leary, Emily Bullock, Eric Holtz, Heather Gaunt, Jennifer Metzler-Fiorino, Monica Dudley and Nancy Peterson. Sea Star award nominees included: Chad Goodson, Tom Coit, Jennifer Metzler-Fiorino, Joanne Harcke, Monica Dudley, Suzanne Holtzclaw, Terry Bryant and Terry McNeel.

The recipient of the Sea Star award is given to an Aquarium employee for outstanding job performance at the Aquarium and service to the community. The recipient of the FISH™ Philosophy award is given to an Aquarium employee who has gone above and beyond to make the Aquarium a better place to work and visit by choosing a positive attitude, making co-workers’ and visitors’ days, playing, and being physically and mentally at work.

NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is located just south of Kure Beach, near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, on U.S. 421. The site is less than a mile from the Fort Fisher ferry terminal. Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days). Admission: $8 Ages 13-61, $7 Ages 62 and up, $6 Ages 3-12, Free for children 2 and under, NC Aquarium Society members and pre-registered North Carolina school groups. General information:

Photo captain: Award winners Hap Fatzinger on the left and Chad Goodson on the right with Director Donna Moffitt.