Fort Fisher, North Carolina Complete immersion in a coral reef at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher (NCAFF) happens frequently—it’s the awe-filled gaze and sense of peace that only comes from seeing magnificent creatures swimming in a majestic habitat. This World Reef Day, June 1, the Aquarium invites visitors to come for the corals and stay for the otters, alligators and turtles.

Caribbean Corals, the newest habitat at the Aquarium, is now open, featuring the spectacularly striking fish, corals and other species that inhabit this ecosystem. Through this beautiful representation, Aquarium visitors will glimpse into an underwater world that is the lifeblood for ocean health. Some of the species in this new habitat at the Aquarium include redspotted hawkfish, a sharpnose puffer, blue chromis, clown wrasses, molly miller blennies, and tobacco bass. See these fish at NCAFF Caribbean Corals

Pacific Reef features the striking Bangaii cardinal fish, derasa clam, indigo dottyback, the true percula clownfish and the bubble tip anemone, thriving in the maze, brain, bird’s nest and other coral.

Caribbean Corals and Pacific Reef, which feature live corals, are a stunning reminder of why conservation of these beautiful habitats is critical to ocean health. Corals are animals, even though they may exhibit some of the characteristics of plants and are often mistaken for rocks. In scientific classification, corals fall under the phylum Cnidaria and the class Anthozoa. They are relatives of jellyfish and anemones. There are more than 800 known species of reef-building coral worldwide and hundreds of species of soft corals and deep-sea corals.

Many of the world’s reefs have already been destroyed or severely damaged by water pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices, disease, global climate change, and ship groundings. Telling this story and inspiring conservation is at the heart of the mission of the North Carolina Aquariums.

NCAFF aquarist Marc Neill has spent the last year working with the exhibits, operations, and husbandry teams at the Aquarium to bring to life the Caribbean Corals habitat.  

“It will be a long but fun process to watch as the system matures over time. The coral collection consists of small colonies that will hopefully take advantage of the larger habitat space and grow into sizeable colonies with time,” said Neill.

Anyone can take individual actions to save coral reefs, whether you live by the ocean or in the mountains.

  • Refuse single-use plastic.
  • Recycle and dispose of trash properly.
  • Minimize use of fertilizers.
  • Use environmentally friendly modes of transportation.
  • Reduce stormwater runoff.
  • Save energy at home and at work.
  • Be conscious when buying aquarium fish.
  • Spread the word.

Discover Caribbean Corals and the Pacific Reef on your visit to NCAFF and be inspired to protect our ocean habitats. Reservations are required to tour the Aquarium. Please visit NCAFF Reservations to reserve tickets online.