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What’s the best way to see fish and sea creatures?

Ben Steelman

* The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, 900 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach [Map this], focuses on Southeastern North Carolina waters and the marshland environment. A two-story, 235,000-gallon tank contains sharks, eels, stingrays and other saltwater fish. Also on display are stakes, rays, octopus, frogs, turtles, snakes alligators and a large variety of freshwater fish. The aquarium is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily (except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission is $8 adults, $7 seniors, $6 students aged 6-17. Children 5 and younger are admitted free.

* The Museum of Coastal Carolina, 21 E. Second St., Ocean Isle Beach [Map this], offers a touch tank and ocean reef exhibit as part of its overall collection on the region’s natural history and Native American heritage. Also included are an extensive collection of sea shells and sharks’ teeth, and a special exhibit devoted to the loggerhead turtle. Winter and spring hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Summer hours (after May 23) are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, with special evening programs until 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Admission is $8 adults, $6 seniors and students, $4 for children aged 3-5.

* The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, 822 Carolina Ave., Topsail Beach [Map this], offers guided tours of its facility during the summer. The center, one of the few turtle “hospitals” on the Atlantic Coast, has an attached gift shop. Volunteers are actively recruited.

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