Weekend Getaway: Pine Knoll Shores

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Environmental education takes a giant leap forward this weekend with the opening of the newly renovated and largely expanded North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The grand opening comes after two years of construction and numerous delays dating back to Hurricane Floyd. Touch a stingray. Watch a river otter play. Feel the spray of a mountain waterfall. You can do it all the so much more. The theme is "Mountain to the Sea" with galleries representing five regions: mountains, piedmont, coastal plains, tidal waters and ocean. The facility near Atlantic Beach is triple the size of the old one. The expansion cost $25 million dollars. Check out the eels, alligators, snakes and triggerfish. And while you're there say "hey" to Jay! Aquarium director Jay Barnes, that is. He's the guy who wrote the defining book on North Carolina hurricane history. Jay and I once collaborated on a "Precious Waters" documentary for the previous facility when I was heavily involved in environmental reporting for WRAL. And by all means when you're in the area go for the shrimp and grits at Clawson's 1905 on the Beaufort waterfront!.