Fort Fisher aquarium back open after grappling with cooling issues

Fort Fisher aquarium closed Friday due to issues cooling building

FOR FISHER, N.C. (WECT) - The North Carolina aquarium at Fort Fisher was open Saturday after cooling issues closed the facility down Thursday morning.

According to a release from the aquarium, there were mechanical issues with the main building chiller, which controls building and habitat temperatures.

“Due to exceedingly high heat and humidity in our area, rising building temperatures make normal operations unsafe for visitation,” the release stated.

Staff members monitored habitat water temperatures while the equipment was repaired.

“All animals are safe,” said Robin Nalepa with the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. "Our animal care team is carefully monitoring habitats and will continue to do so. The Aquarium has extensive safety protocols in place for emergency situations, similar to a hurricane. Most of the animals in our care are native to North Carolina and are tolerant of moderate increases in water temperatures.

As of Thursday night, staff had identified a failed water circulation pump and the pump was removed. Though they found the issue quickly, the aquarium was still closed to the public Friday.

“We are disappointed that we were unable to create meaningful experiences for thousands of guests but visitor well-being is a concern,” said Aquarium Director Hap Fatzinger. “It is also critical we do not elevate indoor temperatures with thousands of guests, which could put an undue strain on a system operating at a fraction of its capacity.”

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