RALEIGH — It’s going to cost more to visit North Carolina aquariums starting Saturday, thanks to falling support from taxpayers. And it will no longer be free to walk out on Jennette’s Pier at Nags Head.
Admission to the three state aquariums will go up by $2.95, the first increase in eight years. Since that time, state support for the Aquariums Division has dropped more than 30 percent, to about $7.2 million this year, said director David Griffin.
Taxpayers provided a little more than half of the division’s $14 million budget in the last fiscal year, Griffin said. The rest comes from tickets, gift shops and other income.
Admission to the aquariums at Fort Fisher, Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island will be $10.95 for adults, $9.95 for seniors ages 62 and up and $8.95 for children ages 3 to 12. There’s a new military rate of $9.95, and children 2 and under are free.
Jennette’s Pier, which is run by the state Aquariums Division, will for the first time charge $2 for sightseers, or $1 if they’re under 13.
The pier, which reopened in 2009 after a $25 million reconstruction project, receives no state support, Griffin said, but runs off gift shop sales and fishing fees and rentals. Sightseers were requested to make a $2 donation, which will now be mandatory.