New York Aquarium Plans Partial Reopening in Spring

When Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast, it caused extensive damage to the Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium located in Coney Island and its many neighbors. The aquarium is slated to partially open in spring and will include a fully remodeled Aquatheater with a new sea lion demonstration.

The Wildlife Conservation Society plans to partially reopen the New York Aquarium in late spring of this year, and will include a fully remodeled Aquatheater with a new sea lion demonstration and offer limited education programs for teens and educators.

Black Footed Penguins at New York Aquarium
Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

The partial reopening will include Glover’s Reef, exhibits in Main Hall (Coral Triangle of Fiji, Great Lakes of East Africa, and the Flooded Forests of the Amazon), and outdoor spaces of Sea Cliffs that feature walrus, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and penguins.

"The New York Aquarium has been an important part of the economic, cultural, educational and scientific community of Brooklyn since 1957,” says 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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The aquarium was been closed since the night of the storm when surge waters from the Atlantic Ocean came over and under the Coney Island Boardwalk, flooding all the buidlings at 14-acre park. Losses in the collection were minimal and limited to fish and invertebrates housed in a few tanks.

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.

California Sea Lion New York Aquarium
Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

“We have been encouraged by the support from our city, state, and federal officials to secure the funds necessary for the reconstruction,” Samper says. “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. We are also seeking strong support from private donors to help ensure that together we rebuild the great aquarium experience that New York City deserves.”

WCS continues to also plan for the aquarium expansion, Ocean Wonders: Sharks! 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 brought the wonders of the world's oceans to New York's children and families for more than 50 years and is an iconic cultural and educational landmark.

 “WCS’s New York Aquarium is important to the recovery of Coney Island," says Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "The partial reopening is a milestone for the community as it recovers from Hurricane Sandy. The city looks forward to working with WCS to ensure a fully reconstructed and reopened aquarium.”