Ten-Year, Public-Private Initiative Will Transform WCS's NY Aquarium and Jump Start the Re-Birth of Coney Island, Solidifying Brooklyn as a Destination for Tourists Worldwide and Sparking Economic Development Locally
Aquarium to Better Integrate Boardwalk, Ocean, and Protection of New York Waters
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK (Sept. 17, 2009) – The Wildlife Conservation Society, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. announced today a 10-year initiative to transform the WCS New York Aquarium.
“A Sea Change at the WCS NY Aquarium,” is a public-private initiative that will transform the aquarium and jump start the re-birth of Coney Island.
The Specifics of A Sea Change at the WCS New York Aquarium include:
  • A state-of-the-art Ocean Wonders exhibit, highlighted by a dramatic new shark exhibit – that will anchor the revitalized guest experience, with more indoor space for better year-round conditions;
  • A completely new Conservation Hall, showcasing several aquatic habitats under protection by WCS; 
  • A refurbished and re-imagined Aquatheater that will better connect our guests with our animal ambassadors and to our conservation mission; 
  • A beautiful new Aquarium exterior along the ocean’s Boardwalk and Surf Avenue, connecting the Aquarium with the ocean; 
  • An expanded marine conservation program, protecting marine life locally, in the New York Harbor, and around the world.
“A Sea Change at the New York Aquarium will establish once again WCS’s leadership in Brooklyn’s cultural environment and anchor the New York Aquarium in the renaissance of Coney Island,” said Dr. Steve E. Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
“This initiative will create an exciting and inspiring experience that celebrates the wonders of the ocean while showcasing the Wildlife Conservation Society’s global efforts to protect marine life and ecosystems in New York Harbor and throughout the planet.
“We thank Mayor Bloomberg, BP Markowitz and City Councilman Recchia for sharing this vision and supporting this project. This is a special moment in the history of the New York Aquarium where private donors, foundations and corporations can join with the city of New York and the Borough of Brooklyn to help fulfill the promise of this beloved cultural icon. This is a perfect opportunity for any business that does business in Brooklyn or wants to do business in Brooklyn to show support for this community.”
Said Bloomberg: “With the City's plan to revitalize the amusement district, Coney Island is poised for exciting growth and the New York Aquarium is an important part of that vision.  For more than fifty years, the Aquarium has welcomed millions of New Yorkers and visitors to the People's Playground, and the expansion of the Aquarium will ensure that it does so for generations to come."
Said Markowitz: “I firmly believe that you could sail the ocean blue and never find a place as exciting and dynamic as Coney Island, so I am delighted that Sea Change will allow the New York Aquarium to ‘reel in’ fans of aquatic life for years to come. I know that with this initiative, our already outstanding aquarium will just get better with every passing year, and never ‘jump the shark.’”
Said Recchia: "As we move toward a revitalized Coney Island, we must take the necessary steps to strengthen the New York Aquarium so it remains a cornerstone of our community. These exciting, important improvements - especially the new shark exhibit - will ensure that the aquarium provides a one-of-a-kind experience as it continues to attract people from around the city, and around the world."
A Sea Change at the WCS New York Aquarium is a partnership among the Wildlife Conservation Society, New York City, and the Borough of Brooklyn, along with support from private donors. Together, these partners will raise the needed investment. While the initial investment is $100 million, the complete cost will be determined as the project moves forward.
This transformation means:
(1.) New exhibits with a greatly expanded collection of creatures including a marquee shark exhibit;
(2.) More in-door guest experiences to better ensure the aquarium as a year-round attraction, further establishing the aquarium as Brooklyn’s number one tourist destination;
(3.) A re-imagined Aquatheater;
(4.) A dynamic new Aquarium exterior;
(5.) An expanded marine conservation program, including an emphasis on New York waters; and
(6.) Green design and infrastructure resulting in a more sustainable facility.
The New York Aquarium is the oldest continuously operating aquarium in the United States. Three quarters of a million people visit every year. Through its 52 years at Coney Island, it has grown to be the most popular cultural attraction in Brooklyn. In addition, it is an officially designated Coastal Education Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and a touchstone for science education citywide.
In 2008 alone, 20,000 children participated in formal education programs at WCS’s New York Aquarium and nearly 200,000 schoolchildren visited the aquarium as part of school, camp or youth group.
“A Sea Change at the WCS NY Aquarium is deeply imbedded in Coney Island’s history and will enhance it, not bury it,” said Sanderson.

Fran Hackett - fhackett@wcs.org, 718-265-3428

The New York Aquarium
opens every day of the year at 10am, and closing times vary seasonally. Admission is $13.00 for adults, $9.00 for children ages 3-12 and $10.00 for senior citizens (65 and older); children under 3 years of age are admitted free. Fridays after 3pm, admission is by suggested donation. The Aquarium is located on Surf Avenue at West 8th Street in Coney Island. For directions, information on public events and programs, and other Aquarium information, call 718-265-FISH or visit our website at www.nyaquarium.com. Now is the perfect time to visit and show support for the New York Aquarium, Brooklyn’s most heavily attended attraction and a beloved part of the City of New York.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide.  We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo.  Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony.  WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.    

Special Note to the Media:
If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to www.wcs.org/donation.