The eagle is named Maverick

7/1/2014 3:48:00 PM

What’s as American as apple pie, fireworks and the stars and stripes? Maverick the bald eagle, now residing at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. 

In June, Aquarium guests and social media friends voted, democratically of course, to pick a name for their newest family member. Votes were cast for one of three names previously selected by Aquarium staff: Aquila (a constellation and eagle in Latin), Fisher and Maverick. A total of 1,067 votes were collected and more than $229 were raised for Aquarium conservation efforts. 

“Eagles offer a powerful conservation story,” said Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan. “We are honored to care for this beautiful animal and thrilled so many of our friends voted in the naming of this special ambassador.” 

Visitors have an opportunity to meet Maverick seven days a week, 363 days a year. Aquarium staff anticipates he will make an impression on guests and help them better understand the species’ survival story. Eagles were once nearly extinct in the United States but were saved by decades of conservation efforts. The young eagle survived a roadside accident in Wisconsin. He arrived at the Aquarium early in 2014. The bird's left wing was damaged in the accident and left him unable to fly. He could not be returned to the wild with his disability. 

Permitting from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service allow the bird to remain in the care of the Aquarium. The young eagle sports dappled brown feathers and will likely mature into adult coloring of white head feathers and yellow beak within several years.

Moon jellies are food for many

7/1/2014 3:31:00 PM

Moon jellies are a delicious treat for tuna, shark, swordfish, spadefish, banner fish, ocean sunfish, blue rockfish, sea turtles and even other jellyfish. A species of Pacific salmon, a type of goby off the coast of Africa and mushroom coral in the Red Sea also find them irresistible. Sea slugs are also known to feed on young jellyfish polyps and can store the jellies’ stinging cells for their own use, and it’s thought that other marine animals graze on the young polyps.

In countries such as China and Japan, people consider jellyfish a culinary delicacy. Two marine animals in particular are reputed to be major jellyfish consumers – leatherback sea turtles and ocean sunfish. Leatherbacks can weigh 2,000 pounds and feed almost exclusively on jellies. Ocean sunfish can weigh in at nearly 5,000 pounds. Ridley and loggerhead sea turtles also eat the floating spheres, and some sea snails and crabs nibble on jellyfish tentacles. Sea birds will eat jellies by pecking at the inner tissue to avoid the tentacles. Jellies are 95 percent water, thus requiring predators to consume large quantities to glean much nutritional value.

One has to wonder how jellyfish predators avoid stings. One factor to consider is that although all jellyfish can sting, not all pack the same punch. Examples are the common moon jelly and cannonball jelly, whose stings aren’t strong enough to penetrate human skin. In addition, jellyfish predators often have thick skins, tough scales or mucus-covered bodies that prevent penetration. Still, how some tolerate the painful, toxic stings is not fully understood; however, it’s thought some predators build up immunity.

Jellyfish deliver stings via thousands of small, capsule-like structures called nematocysts that line their tentacles. Depending on the species, tentacles can range from a few feet to more than 100 feet in length. The nematocysts house barb-like, spring-loaded lances that fire when triggered by the slightest disturbance. Even after a jellyfish is beached, its nematocysts can still discharge.

Although most jellyfish exhibit a slight pulsing motion for a bit of locomotion, they rely primarily on waves, currents and, in some cases, winds for transportation. Surprisingly, a variety of sea animals live on or among jelly tentacles, notably certain types of crabs, shrimp and small fishes. Such an arrangement provides food, shelter and protection for the hitchhikers.

Jellies are found in all seas and oceans worldwide. There are also freshwater and deep sea varieties, and new species continue to be discovered. These graceful drifters often appear en masse in what are called “blooms” or swarms that can number as many as 100,000 individuals. Cutline: Jellyfish are a dining delight for leatherback sea turtles, which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, and ocean sunfish that can weigh in at 5,000 pounds.

from "Ask the Aquarium," Photo by Charlotte Marsh, courtesy of N.C. Aquariums

NCCF offers lots of fun ways you can make a difference

7/1/2014 3:00:00 PM

NCCF offers lots of fun ways you can make a difference

The NC Coastal Federation relies on volunteers to protect and restore our coast. Thousands of people have helped to restore coastal habitat, push for stronger environmental rules and promote stewardship of our coastal resources. As environmental pressures increase, so does the need for protection of coastal resources and thus the need for continued volunteer support.

As a volunteer for the Coastal Federation, you will have the opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills and contribute to the community. Working with others to help protect the coast is an incredibly rewarding experience.

You can bag oysters for restoration projects, pass out brochures and sign up volunteers at a local festival event, or join others in planting a rain garden to protect the wetlands.  Fun, camaraderie and meaningful work for an important local organization.

Membership info

Upcoming activities and events


Sea glass designs are featured this month at Cape Fear Native

6/27/2014 12:32:00 PM

Sue Mixion of Hampstead makes unique jewelry from sea glass she finds on the beach. "After moving to the Topsail Beach area," Sue says, "walking and collecting sea glass became my passion. I wanted to share its beauty and began making jewelry for my family and friends. I wire wrap local sea glass and hand form each piece into lovely bracelets, pendants, and earrings. I was encouraged to consign in a local store and it just grew from there. 

 "I now do area festivals and markets. I also have consignments in three stores - Carolina Décor and Mermaids Purse in Surf City and here at Cape Fear Native." 

See more of Sue's designs here.

Cape Fear Native features the works of local artists and craftspeople inspired by nature. Here you'll find original paintings on canvas and reclaimed river wood, handmade jewelry, local photography, sail bags, handmade wood products, tiles, note cards, historic maps, books and our exclusive Wilmington city map tees/totes/prints.


Jared Tramaglini is featured at Cape Fear Native

5/28/2014 12:48:00 PM

Featured at Cape Fear Native this month is the colorful, nature-inspired works of Jared Tramaglini.   Tramaglini is a self-taught artist who tries to capture the simplistic beauty of nature. Heavily influenced by time spent sailing the Caribbean and exploring the Colorado Rockies, Jared’s work lifts the spirit, exuberant in nature’s beauty.   See some of his work here.

"I want my work to encourage people to keep their heads up while they walk down the street and appreciate the colors, animals and plants that surround us on a daily basis," Tramaglini explains. "The outdoors has, and continues to play a crucial role in my mental and spiritual well-being. I just want to pass that positive light on any way I can. I find it an achievement if, after viewing my work, people take on a different perspective about the community they live in.

“Wilmington is a beautiful and diverse pocket in the world to live, but only if we embrace it and keep a positive outlook.”

Cape Fear Native features the works of local artists and craftspeople inspired by nature. Here you'll find original paintings on canvas and reclaimed river wood, handmade jewelry, local photography, sail bags, handmade wood products, tiles, note cards, historic maps, books and our exclusive Wilmington city map tees/totes/prints. Come in and support your local creative community - they have much to offer us!

Survey to identify NC recreation needs

5/9/2014 2:40:00 PM

The N. C. Division of Parks and Recreation invites you to participate in a statewide survey designed to assess the state’s outdoor recreation preferences and needs for the next 5 years. The results of the survey will help federal, state and local agencies to provide outdoor recreation opportunities as well as protect and restore natural resources.

The short survey is available online through May 31 at the division’s website.

Just look for this tag-

Please share this information with others who may be interested in participating in this important survey!

Eagle lands at the Aquarium

5/2/2014 7:00:00 PM

Perched on a log, sporting a set of powerful talons and a steely gaze, a new resident of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher strikes the impressive pose of a survivor. A roadside rescue and the Aquarium’s desire to share a powerful, conservation story provided the bald eagle a second chance. 

In 2013, a juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was found in western Wisconsin with an injured wing, unable to fly. Veterinarians determined the damaged wing was previously broken and healed poorly in the wild. Though efforts were made, the wing could not be repaired. A permanent home was needed. The eagle would not survive in the wild. Around the same time, the Aquarium decided to make changes to its fresh water conservatory. 
“Moving Luna, the albino alligator, to live with her natural colored cousins in a larger habitat created an opportunity. Our staff researched, planned and invested in the idea of sharing the important conservation story of eagles and introducing our guests to these majestic animals,” said Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan. However, finding the right match for both raptor and the Aquarium took time. Strict federal regulations and permitting requirements surround the protected species and took many months to secure. 

Finally, in February, the juvenile bald eagle traveled from Wisconsin to his new home in North Carolina. Upon arrival, staff gradually introduced the bird, who does not yet have a name, to his new surroundings. They carefully monitored the animal’s diet, behavior and health. They put finishing touches on his specially-designed habitat complete with perches of varied heights, soft moss and a water feature. 

“The introduction of the eagle to the public is based on his adaptation to his surroundings,” said Aquarium Curator Hap Fatzinger. “His long-term health and well-being are our primary concern.” 

 Guests may now meet the Aquarium’s newest animal ambassador in the fresh water conservatory. Some guests are surprised by the bird’s appearance. It will take several years for the young animal to grow the characteristic white head feathers and yellow beak of mature bald eagles. For now, he sports a mottled array of white and brown feathers. 

 Hunting, habitat loss and the once widely-used pesticide DDT depleted the bald eagle population to near extinction in the mid-20th century. Populations have since recovered, supported by the Environmental Protection Agency ban of DDT in the 1970s and large-scale protection of nesting places. Eagles were removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 2007, a conservation success seen in few animal species.

Photographer David Chappell is featured at Cape Fear Native

4/25/2014 1:25:00 PM

  David Chappell lives at Carolina Beach with his wife, Pat. From Church Musician to Pipe Organ Tuner/Technician to Director of Information Technology, the constant has been photography and the need to express himself. He enjoys fishing, boating and driving his 4x out on the sand. But most of all, he enjoys photographing our beautiful Cape Fear region.

Cape Fear Native features the works of local artists and craftspeople inspired by nature. Here you'll find original paintings on canvas and reclaimed river wood, handmade jewelry, local photography, sail bags, handmade wood products, tiles, note cards, historic maps, books and our exclusive Wilmington city map tees/totes/prints.

Come in and support your creative community; buy local.


Loggerheads must be protected

4/24/2014 12:15:00 PM

Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) live in temperate and tropical waters around the world. Unlike other turtles, sea turtles cannot withdraw into their shells for protection. Instead, thick, scaly skin on their head and neck ward off predators.

Beachfront development, human encroachment and nesting predation threaten this and many other species of sea turtles. Loggerheads are listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Because of their protected status, it is illegal to disturb a nesting female loggerhead turtle or to remove her eggs from the nest.

Loggerheads nest on area beaches including Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area from May to late October. Three juvenile loggerheads live at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher and swim daily in the Turtle Talk exhibit.

Ride the roadways

4/24/2014 9:00:00 AM

The Cape Fear Cyclists Club invites you to join them on regularly scheduled weekend rides, weekday rides, and many other individual rides.

All CFC sponsored club rides are led by members. Everyone is welcome on rides, regardless of whether you are a member.

 They also provide a comprehensive calendar of local area biking events and maintain a library of bike routes throughout Wilmington and the surrounding areas.


Membership information

Upcoming events and calendar