Exciting plans are underway to open the first phase of the Hatteras Island Ocean Center this Spring in the former Beacon Shops located on NC Hwy 12 in Hatteras Village. The first phase of this multi-year project includes an interactive information and education center, as well as wetland trails for exploring the unique ecology of Hatteras Island. This series of noninvasive trails will lead to a launching area for kayaks and paddleboards at trail’s end.
The Ocean Center headquarters will house exhibits on the varied components of Hatteras Island’s ecosystem. These interactive exhibits will focus on marine life, shipwrecks, weather, shellfish, salt marsh ecology, and of course, sea turtles! As you enter the Center, a “larger than life” screen will display the underwater photography of local artist, Russell Blackwood. Next, head to the exhibit on sea turtles which will include a machine that simulates x-rays and probes, allowing visitors to learn about the biology of sea turtles while making the connection between sea turtle maladies and the environment’s impact. In addition to playing “Sea Turtle Veterinarian,” visitors will have an opportunity to learn about nesting habits and rehabilitation procedures for the sea turtles of Hatteras Island. From there, visitors can explore a fishing exhibit set up in conjunction with the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum and Captain Ernie Foster of the Albatross Fleet. This exhibit will focus mainly on charter and commercial fishing, with the addition of beach and pier fishing in the future. As you make your way back around to the entrance, take a minute to check out the interactive whiteboard with daily updates on weather, tides, and island happenings. If you’d like to enjoy a Hatteras Island Ocean Center souvenir, choose from a few Ocean Center choice goods and be on your way to explore the wetland trails!
The second phase of the Hatteras Island Ocean Center will include a state-of-the-art pier and pier house located on NC Hwy 12 in the same vicinity as the former General Mitchell Motel in Hatteras Village. The pier house is expected to include a restaurant, other food vendors, a covered playground, an arcade, a public bathhouse, tackle shop, equipment rental, indoor and outdoor exhibits, classrooms, research areas, and a wildlife rehabilitation area. This phase is still in the very beginning stages as funding is being pursued.