Coney Island

OPINION: Give loved ones a virtual piece of the New York Aquarium for the holidays

December 24, 2013 By Jon Forrest Dohlin Wildlife Conservation Society
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What do you give the animal lovers, environmentalists and conservation-minded individuals on your holiday list? How about a virtual part of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium as it continues to move from recovery to resilience a year after Hurricane Sandy?

A beloved Brooklyn landmark, the WCS New York Aquarium was closed for seven months for the initial cleanup after it was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. While many of the complex electrical and life support systems for the animals still need replacement, there is much to celebrate this holiday season.

More than 350,000 people have visited since the aquarium’s partial reopening this past May. We’re also looking ahead to the expansion and transformation of the aquarium as we lead the renaissance taking place in Coney Island.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

The aquarium is important to the economy of New York City, to the education of our city’s school children, and to the conservation of New York’s ocean and waterways, and WCS marine conservation efforts around the world.  An economic engine in South Brooklyn, we pump about $58 million into the local economy, see 12,000 kids in our classrooms and reach about 220,000 more students who visit our facility and use our science education programs each year. These roles will grow stronger with the rebuilding of those exhibits devastated by Sandy and the opening of our new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit in 2016.

Created by WCS’s design team in collaboration with award-winning environmental artist Ned Kahn, the exterior of the Ocean Wonders exhibit will be wrapped in a moving screen of 33,000 aluminum tiles, creating an eye-catching installation of public art that will transform the Coney Island skyline. The wall will use wind and sunlight to make it ripple like the surface of the ocean.  It will be a beacon to the millions of visitors inspired by our marine treasures and dazzling shoreline.

Now, New Yorkers can go on-line to support our fundraising efforts as we build the NEW New York Aquarium by purchasing virtual tiles of this shimmering wall. Purchasing $100 (tax-deductible) tiles offers a real act of support and a special way to spread holiday cheer.

The virtual tiles, which can be customized by colors and animal themes, are a lasting way to acknowledge friends, family or colleagues who care about conservation. Messages for the aquarium can be included on the tiles that will be displayed on the aquarium’s website:

The New York Aquarium is more resilient now than it was a year ago. WCS is working with city, state and federal government officials every day on its full restoration. Our comeback will help the Coney Island community become more vibrant than ever. We invite you to be part of the transformation.

Jon Forrest Dohlin is WCS Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium.  Virtual tiles of a shimmer wall, which will surround the new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit,  are being sold at

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