Thursday, June 13, 2013

Seeking inspiration

What inspires you? Is it an experience, a person, an idea? Is it nature or art? Is it something else? I believe the natural world enhances the experience of being human. For me, beauty in nature inspires awe, wonder and curiosity. Experiencing nature connects me to a better, fuller life. Nature is at the core of the Aquarium; each animal and exhibit offers a glimpse of the wild.
North Carolina Aquariums’ mission statement reads: “Inspiring appreciation and conservation of aquatic environments.” Is an Aquarium visit inspiring?  
When you step in to the first Aquarium building at Fort Fisher a waterfall, trees and free-roaming birds greet you. Does the transition change how you feel? Are you more attuned to life around you in a new way? Watch as little kid faces press against exhibits, reaching to get closer to life on the other side. Eye-to-eye and nose-to-nose people connect with animals at every turn. Are they inspired and if so, to what end?

As you move from freshwater swamps and rivers, to the coastal and marine building does the change in lighting and sound affect you? Again and again visitors share stories of special shared moments touching animals and engaging with staff. What is it about connecting with animals that is so compelling and appealing? Is the experience as powerful if it isn’t shared?
Standing next to a wall of water teaming with fish, joined occasionally by a curious green sea turtle, do you feel transported to an underwater world? Is it calming, frightening, inspiring? What is it that draws you to glimpse under the surface of the sea?
Answers to the question of why you visit, if you visit, the Aquarium at Fort Fisher surely varies and I’d love to know. For me, the connection to animals and people - visitors and staff – improves my quality of life and inspires me every day.

-Peggy Sloan

Director, NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher

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