Hi there! Gemma here, one of the Asian small-clawed otters splashing around the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. While two of my older sisters, Selene and Mae, have ventured out of our den to start families of their own, my other siblings, Stella, Kai, Ren and I still call the Aquarium in Kure Beach our home. Our parents, Leia and Quincey, along with team at the Aquarium take really great care of us. If you've visited in the past year, you've probably had the chance to see my family grow and play in our awesome habitat.

The best part about living at the Aquarium is that I have the coolest neighbors, plus a steady stream of humans visit us every day and learn more about our habitats and life cycles. Let me introduce you to some of my awesome friends and neighbors at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Once you hear about them, you'll want to stop by yourself to meet them!

Fabulous Friends

Meet my friend Maverick. He's a bald eagle who moved to the Aquarium after he broke his wing in 2014. I think the fact that he can no longer fly actually makes him extra special, because he gets to teach people about habitat loss, endangered species and wildlife rehabilitation. You can see him in his open-air habitat, where he splashes around in his pool or sunbathes on his perch.

Luna is the Aquarium's super-special albino American alligator. Don't worry: she's very friendly and has been at the Aquarium for almost 20 years, long before my time. She and her best friend, Ganut, love chilling under a heat lamp and floating in their pool. Stop by their habitat, and be sure to give them a proper, "See ya later, alligator," before you leave.

Each year, loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings are rescued by the awesome volunteers with the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project, an organization committed to sea turtle conservation throughout all stages of life, especially during nesting season. Last year, my friends Aleta and Pico were rescued, and children from the Adopt-a-Turtle program gave them their cool names, which mean "flipper" and "beak" in Spanish.

Neighboring Aquatic Environments

Sharks, stingrays, a sea turtle and moray eel call the Cape Fear Shoals habitat their home, which is 235,000 gallons of water. There is even a viewing bubble where you can catch unique views of the habitat and even spot my buddy Shelldon, a green sea turtle, or sand tiger sharks. Both are threatened species the Aquarium works extra hard to protect.

Inside the cool Coquina Outcrop exhibit you’ll find rocky wonders where anemones, pencil urchins and hermit crabs live. Their unique eco-system also features a sea star and yellow stingrays that human visitors can even touch. 

Explore an ecosystem vital to the ocean’s health in the Caribbean Corals habitat. Like me, you can watch the coral grow over time, alongside fascinating sea creatures such as red-spotted hawkfish and sharpnose puffer, as well as cool-sounding species like clown wrasses and molly miller blennies.

If you’re as impressed with my neighbors as I am, plan a visit to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher to wave hi to them and learn more about them in person. You can even go on a behind-the-scenes tour to see more of the Aquarium, parts I've haven’t even seen! But be sure to stop by the otter tank first and introduce yourself.

Hope to see you soon!