Coney Island

Coney’s New York Aquarium will reopen in late spring

February 26, 2013 Raanan Geberer
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The Wildlife Conservation Society plans to partially reopen the hurricane-damaged New York Aquarium in Coney Island in late spring.

Sections that will be open to the public will include Glover’s Reef; exhibits in the Main Hall (Coral Triangle of Fiji, Great Lakes of East Africa and the Flooded Forests of the Amazon); outdoor spaces of Sea Cliffs (walruses, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and penguins); and a fully re-modeled Aquatheater with a new sea lion demonstration.

At the same time, educational programs will resume on a limited basis at the facility. This will include the teen docent program, summer camp for students, and training for educators. In addition, aquarium staff will continue to work closely with the WCS Global Marine Program on the WCS New York Seascape initiative to conduct conservation research from Cape May to Montauk.

“The New York Aquarium has been an important part of the economic, cultural, educational and scientific community of Brooklyn since 1957,” said Cristián Samper, president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “We know all efforts to reopen the New York Aquarium are vital to the rebirth of Coney Island. This partial reopening will ensure that the aquarium can help all of New York City experience a strong comeback from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.”

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WCS is developing a detailed scope and budget for full restoration of the aquarium and a rough estimate puts the cost of the reconstruction in the range of $65 million. WCS continues to also plan for the aquarium expansion, “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!”

“We have been encouraged by the support from our city, state, and federal officials to secure the funds necessary for the reconstruction,” said Samper. “We thank Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Councilman Domenic Recchia, and the entire New York Congressional delegation for working toward the reconstruction of the New York Aquarium, which attracts more than 750,000 visitors annually to Brooklyn.”

Councilman Recchia. said, “The revitalization of South Brooklyn in the wake of Superstorm Sandy would not be complete without the reopening of the New York Aquarium. The partial reopening this spring is a step in the right direction to restoring this iconic cultural and educational institution, but there is much more work that needs to be done before it is back up and running in full. I look forward to working with my counterparts in city, state, and federal government to ensure that such an important driver of tourism and the local economy in south Brooklyn is fully restored.”

The New York Aquarium suffered extensive damage due to a significant storm surge on the night of Monday, Oct. 29, as Hurricane Sandy drove waters under the Coney Island Boardwalk, completely or partially flooding all buildings at the 14-acre park.  The ocean flood waters destroyed or significantly damaged the facility’s heating, air conditioning, and electrical power and distribution equipment and aquatic life support systems.

Flooding damaged the interiors of most exhibit buildings. Losses in the collection were minimal, however, and limited to fish and invertebrates housed in a few tanks. The damage was significant to the infrastructure, and the facility has been closed since the night of the storm.

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