Museum Treasure Hunt

A Teacher-Led-Tour of the North Carolina Maritime Museum

  • Use the Museum Treasure Hunt to explore North Carolina’s natural and maritime heritage. Take a few minutes to explore each exhibit, and then ask the group these questions. 
  • Groups must be divided into smaller groups of ten or fewer students and assigned a chaperone to discuss the questions. Each small group may start at any exhibit, but must stay together while in the museum.


  • These are models of real fish–life-size and life-like. What are other kinds of models you know about?
  • What fish do you see that you have caught? read about? learned about? 
  • Which is the most interesting fish you see? 
  • Even though two animals here are called a dolphin, how are they different?
  • Describe similarities and differences between a sea turtle and a land turtle—their shells, where they spend their life, how their feet differ, where they lay eggs? 
  • What are some items found on the shipwreck believed to be Blackbeard’s flagship (the ship that carries the fleet commander and bears his flag)? 
  • What are some problems created when we throw trash into the water?

Exhibit Hall


  • What kinds of fossil animals are found in coastal North Carolina?
  • Find the name of one invertebrate, one marine vertebrate, and one land animal.

N.C. Working Watercraft

  • What types of boats were used in North Carolina waters in the 1700s and 1800s? 
  • What were some uses for boats before the 1900s? 
  • How are boats used today? 
  • What is the North Carolina state boat? 
  • Note the construction of the Core Sound Sharpie suspended from the ceiling.

Commercial Fishing

  • Whaling was a means of making money along the barrier islands of North Carolina from the 1600s through the early 1900s. What two products were made from or taken from whales. 
  • What fishing industries were part of North Carolina’s commercial fishing history of the 1800s? 
  • Point out some of different methods and equipment fishermen use to catch fish? 
  • What kind of boats and nets are used to catch shrimp?
  • Find the purse boats on the large menhaden fishing boat model. These boats put out the net, surround the fish, then pull the school together like the drawstring of a purse.  What products were made from the menhaden?

Waterfowl Decoys of North Carolina (exhibit in progress)

  • Find three different types of waterfowl hunted in eastern North Carolina.
  • Where do these birds spend the summer? Winter?

Down to the Depths (exhibit in progress)

  • What was this bell used for? Where?
  • How were deep sea diving suits used? Where did their air supply come from?

Venomous snakes

  • What types of poisonous snakes are found in eastern North Carolina?
  • Note the habitats where each lives and what each snake eats.

Coastal Marine Life (due to budget cuts aquariums are temporarily shut down)

  • Name several kinds of fish that you find in the aquariums and exhibits. 
  • Find the animals that live in a shell? 
  • Find two ways animals can protect themselves with colors and patterns. 
  • Fouling organisms are those that attach to a hard surface. Name two places where animals and plants can find a hard surface in the water. 
  • Can you find two animals that burrow for protection? 
  • Find an animal that is camouflaged to capture prey (food) or hide from enemies (predators).
  • What are some ways a bird is adapted to its environment? 
  • What are some threats to coastal waters from upstream activities? 
  • What is one way that seaweeds protect themselves from being eaten by fish? 
  • NC has a great variety of beautiful shells. What are some ways these shells can be grouped?
  • Name two mollusks that lay egg cases?

Throw away the Oars – Outboard Motors

  • How are the motors arranged? 
  • What are some items in the workshop that tell you it is not from the 1800s? 
  • Do you think it is a working shop of today? What are your reasons? 
  • The Silver Clipper was one of the first types of motorboats used just for enjoyment. What are some boats used today for recreation?

Solders of Surf and Storm—Lighthouses & Lifesaving

  • Find the lighthouse lens and count how many pieces of angled glass make up the light. Why do you think it is built this way? How far away could this light be seen?
  • What were some responsibilities of lighthouse keepers? 
  • What are some ways that people were rescued from ships and brought to shore in the late 1800s? 
  • Name some ways people are rescued and brought to safety from ships in distress at sea today?


  • Do you know an important star that is used for navigation?
  • What is the name of the instrument used for navigation by the stars?
  • What imaginary lines on the earth are used for navigation?