Ribbon Cutting at Renovated Roanoke Island Aquarium

The Jellyfish gallery. A soothing and quiet corner of the Aquarium.
The Jellyfish gallery. A soothing and quiet corner of the Aquarium.

With North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory on hand to cut the ribbon on the renovated North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, the final step was taken to introduce a remarkable transformation of one of the most popular sites for visitors on the Outer Banks.

With over 300,000 visitors annually, the Aquarium is an important part of the Outer Banks experience, a point McCrory referred to in his remarks noting how important tourism is for the economy of the entire state.

The renovations were long overdue—the last major work on the facility was 16 years ago, although the STAR (Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation) Center was put in place two years ago.

The cost of the renovation was put at $6.5 million with almost all of that—$5.5 million—coming from private donations funneled through the North Carolina Aquarium Society. The success of that public/private partnership was a key point in McCrory’s address.

“The government can’t do it by itself, the private sector can’t do it by itself, but by working together is a win win for everyone,” he said.

Mostly, though, the Governor talked about the wonder of walking through a facility that combines some of the best features of technology with a very hands on experience for visitor—especially children. “When you come here, the first thing you notice are the children,” he said.