Pollinator garden, maritime trail a new addition to North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

Published 4:28 pm Friday, May 6, 2022

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The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island will officially open its pollinator garden and maritime trail to coincide with National Pollinator Week, thanks to a grant from Dominion Energy.

The area features native species of plants, educational and interactive signage, picnic tables made from recycled water bottles and a short nature trail. Each area of the garden represents a different North Carolina coastal habitat.

“The goal of the project is to teach people the importance of native pollinators,” said exhibits coordinator Collee Shytle. “It engages all of the senses. There are no signs that say ‘do not touch.’ It gives kids an opportunity to get out into nature and notice things in their environment. There are things to touch, things to see, things to feel.”

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The garden was designed to be a colorful experience in exploration. However, the selection of plants and flowers also serves a purpose. “There is nothing here just to be pretty,” Shytle added.

A pollinator garden is an area with plants that naturally draw pollinators to the area. Though most people correctly think of bees first, the aquarium chose to focus on other pollinators that are native to North Carolina like butterflies, hummingbirds, moths and flies.

Because of the milkweed plantings, nectar sources and shelter for monarch butterflies as they migrate through North America, the area received an official Monarch Waystation designation from Monarch Watch. The area has also been certified as a wildlife habitat from the National Wildlife Federation.

The project was made possible through a $25,000 grant from Dominion Energy. External affairs manager Winnie Wade presented a commemorative check to aquarium director Larry Warner. “This is such a wonderful partnership,” Warner said. “We appreciate this so much.”

National Pollinator Week is June 20-26. The aquarium will offer promotional activities all throughout the week. The garden and maritime trail will be open during regular aquarium hours and are included in the price of admission. The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is located at 374 Airport Road. Reservations are required and are available online at www.ncaquariums.com/roanoke-island.