Coney Island, Brooklyn – Oct. 29, 2013 - The following statement was issued today by WCS Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium Jon Forrest Dohlin:

On this first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the Wildlife Conservation Society is thankful for all of the support we received over the past year as we have moved from recovery to rebuilding and transforming the New York Aquarium.

We are aware that many of our neighbors – families and businesses – continue to recover and we strive to ensure the New York Aquarium’s comeback will help our community become more vibrant than ever. 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 the nearby ocean and waterways.

Annually, we have contributed more than $58 million worth of economic activity into the community. We traditionally have served 750,000 guests each year. Since we partially re-opened in May, more than 350,000 guests have visited the aquarium. Our Education Department has resumed our summer camp program, our classroom and professional development on-site programming and our teen docent recruitment (with 90 docents already participating).

The community support is what drives us every day to ensure this comeback.

The storm hit just days before the much anticipated groundbreaking of a new shark exhibit, Ocean Wonders: Sharks!. The partnership between WCS and the City of New York for the planned expansion continue to move forward while we simultaneously rebuild.

Although progress has been made, the devastation was so severe that much work still needs to be done to fully restore the aquarium. Parts of the aquarium remain closed because damaged electrical and life support systems critical to maintain animals need to be replaced. These areas include Explore the Shore, Alien Stingers, and underwater viewing areas at Sea Cliffs. WCS is working with city, state and federal governments on full restoration, a task that is an extremely complex challenge.

As we meet this challenge, we are thankful to the community, and to our partners, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr.

We look forward to celebrating with the community the opening of a fully transformed New York Aquarium in 2016.

Barbara Russo – 718-265-3428;
Max Pulsinelli – 571-218-7601;
Mary Dixon – 347-840-1242;