PINE KNOLL SHORES, N.C. — Have you ever wanted to name a dragon? The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores has two new female blue-tongue skinks, and they’re awful close to being little dragons. The aquarium is looking for help in naming the two newest animal ambassadors.
Voting starts on August 1 and ends at 6 p.m. on August 12.
Volunteers and staff came up with a list of names based on the aquarium’s animal ambassador naming criteria. The names should highlight an important connection to the animal’s historical or cultural significance, natural history, scientific name, or an aspect of the animal’s adaptation or behavior. We’re asking guests and visitors to pick their top two favorite names from the list.
“We’re excited about our new animal ambassadors because they’re an amazing representation of lizards and can help our guests make connections to other reptiles like the three species of five-lined skinks in North Carolina. Seeing these large blue-togue skinks up close can help people want to learn more about North Carolina skinks and lizards,” said Emily Fessler, aquarium education curator.
Both of the blue-tongue skinks, an Eastern blue-tongue and a Northern blue-tongue, are native to Australia, and both species can live anywhere between 15-30 years. They arrived at the aquarium in May and went through a 45-day quarantine period, during which the veterinary team observed them to ensure they were healthy.
Aquarium aquarist and skink caretaker Megan LeDoux said both skinks are doing well and have adjusted to their new habitats. LeDoux has gotten to know them over the past few months and said they are both wonderful eaters and tolerate baths. Their diets consist of various insects, fruits, veggies, and mice.
The Name Choices Include:
- Syd: short for Sydney, Australia. The capital city of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia.
- Mel: Short for Melbourne, the capital of the Australian state of Victoria and the second-most populous city in Australia.
- Sunny: The name comes from the Sunshine Coast, the region in South East Queensland, Australia.
- Tili: Short for Tiliqua. Both skinks belong to the genus Tiliqua.
- Wiru: (pronounced wi-roo) Means “Beautiful” in the Western Desert Language. These dialects are the largest language group of Aboriginal Australians.
- Bluey: A nickname for blue-tongue skink and highlights one of their best-known features – their blue tongue.
Voting is open online at www.ncaquariums.com/namethatskink, and paper ballots will be available at the Information Desk at the front of the aquarium for those who visit the Aquarium. Reserve tickets and make membership reservations online at www.ncaquariums.com/tickets-pks.
“Our hope is that people will learn about the different adaptations that different lizards have based on their habitats. We also hope our guests will want to help conserve these amazing creatures, both ones at home and those around the world,” said Fessler.
Individual Actions to Help Skinks
The Eastern and Northern blue tongue skinks aren’t endangered, but the pygmy blue-tongue lizard, also native to Australia, is and the population is decreasing. While one person can’t do everything, everyone can do something—individual actions in local communities can protect local species and help create change for species across the globe. Here are some personal conservation action items:
- Land use changes and pesticides can take a toll on animals like skinks – being mindful of what we use on lawns and how land use changes can affect habitats for animals like skinks.
- Don’t support illegally traded wild animals as pets.
- Support Aquarium conservation priorities by visiting North Carolina Aquarium Society.
How Can the Public See the Skinks?
The skinks will be in their habitats in the aquarium’s Discovery Classroom. Guests will be able to meet the skinks in person from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on August 17 during a public program when staff will reveal their new names. Otherwise, the skinks can be seen during Creature Connections and Animal Encounters, two of the Aquarium’s free daily programs. Animals do vary per program, but the schedule of daily programs can be found at www.ncaquariums.com/free-programs-pks.