WCS's New York Aquarium Unveils Its New Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef

  • Conservation Hall spotlights marine life native to three regions of the world: The Indo-Pacific, freshwater lakes of Africa, and Brazil’s rainforest
  • Glover’s Reef showcases fish and coral native to this magnificent reef in Belize
  • WCS conservation efforts to protect endangered marine species will be featured
  • Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef is major part of A Sea Change at the New York Aquarium, a 10-year transformation initiative announced in 2009   
  • Campaign will transform the aquarium and help ignite the re-birth of Coney Island

Brooklyn, N.Y. – April 14, 2011 –The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium unveiled today its renovated Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef –  a spectacular 4,000-square-foot building now home to more than one hundred 100 species of aquatic animals, from colorful corals and exotic eels, to highly endangered African freshwater fish.
 
The new Conservation Hall holds species that have never before been on display at the aquarium. It is divided into three habitats: The Pacific Ocean’s Coral Triangle, Africa’s Great Lakes, and Brazil’s Flooded Forest. Adjacent to these exhibits is Glover’s Reef, an impressive 167,000-gallon exhibit. The spacious viewing areas offers visitors an up-close look at some of the most beautiful fish native to these regions of the world, including piranhas, stingrays, angelfish, black pacus, and many more.  
 
The renovation of Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef is a major part of A Sea Change at the New York Aquarium, a 10-year $150 million-plus public-private capital initiative that will transform the aquarium and help ignite the re-birth of Coney Island.
 
The exhibits in Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef are designed to inspire and educate visitors about the importance of underwater habitats. Graphics and a new interactive coral kiosk provide information about environmental threats facing reef systems, such as global warming and pollution. Graphics throughout the hall show visitors how WCS marine conservationists at the New York Aquarium and around the world are working to save wildlife and wild places.
 
“Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef offer visitors a glimpse into some of the world’s most beautiful and fragile underwater ecosystems,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium. “The state-of-the art design allows for an up-close view of many fascinating aquatic animals. These new exhibits will inspire our visitors to become stewards and advocates for marine and freshwater ecosystems. All of these changes are important to the redevelopment and resurgence of Coney Island. I’d like to thank Barbara Zucker, WCS Trustee and Chair of the Sea Change Advisory Committee, Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Assembly member Alec Brook-Krasney, and Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs Kate Levin for their support in making this possible.”

“I like to say that Brooklyn is proud home to everyone from everywhere, and now that includes everything from everywhere—including Cuban hogfish and French angels to creatures from Africa’s Great Lakes, a reef in Belize and Brazil’s rain forest,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “I was proud to join Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn and Council Member Recchia in providing support for Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef, which will provide a close-up view of some of the world’s most exotic aquatic animals without ever having to leave Brooklyn.”

“I’m thrilled to help unveil the renovated Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef,” said Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. “This beautiful building is host to more than one hundred species of aquatic animals, and it’s an amazing addition to the New York Aquarium. But more importantly, this is an important component of A Sea Change, a massive renovation that is going to make this aquarium a world-class destination that attracts visitors from far and wide to a revitalized Coney Island.”

“With enhanced exhibitions showing an array of new species, New York Aquarium’s renovated Conservation Hall is a captivating attraction that will also provide significant opportunities for cutting-edge education and research,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin. “Thanks to this public-private partnership, the New York Aquarium will welcome even more visitors from across the city and around the world to Coney Island to experience one of the city’s most treasured seaside destinations.”

“As one of Coney Island’s top year-round destinations, the New York Aquarium is an essential part of the historic amusement district,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “The investment made to build the new Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef will draw more visitors to Coney Island and add to an exciting lineup of events and experiences coming this summer.”

One of the important conservation components to Conservation Hall is the Malagasy Fish Lab, which shows visitors how WCS is breeding endangered fish at the aquarium. Graphics explain how WCS field staff is playing an active role in fish conservation for the island of Madagascar. Within the lab is a fully functioning laboratory system where visitors can see keepers at work.
 
There is also a Sustainable Pets Kiosk that encourages people to make good choices on pets based on sustainability and global greenness. It shows how pet choice, in particular for aquarium animals, can have a positive effect on environments and communities around the world.
 
“Incredible exhibits such as this are a testament to the talent and dedication of the Wildlife Conservation Society staff. I am proud to support the launch of this beautiful new exhibit and the exciting transformation taking place here at the New York Aquarium,” said Barbara Hrbek Zucker, WCS Trustee and Chair of the Sea Change Advisory Committee.

A Sea Change is a $150 million-plus public-private capital initiative that will transform the aquarium and help ignite the rebirth of Coney Island.

About the exhibits:

Glover’s Reef
This is the first exhibit that visitors encounter upon entering the lobby. The 167,000-gallon tank replicates Glover’s Reef, a coral reef system located in Belize. It is home to marine creatures including eels, Atlantic rays, French angels, and Cuban hogfish.
 
Through powerful graphics, visitors will be introduced to WCS’s Glover’s Reef Marine Research Station. Here, WCS studies many aspects of a reef system, including coral diversity, bleaching, and the abundance of fish using and keeping the reef alive.
 
The Pacific Ocean’s Coral Triangle
After viewing Glover’s Reef, visitors enter the new Conservation Hall and encounter the Pacific Ocean’s Coral Triangle, dedicated to a 2.3 million-square-mile coral reef that is home to vibrant corals, lively fish, and other reef animals. The primary and secondary tanks within this exhibit emphasize the complexity of this ecosystem by highlighting examples of interdependencies in the reef. Some of the hundreds of animals that live here include corals, clownfish, and anemones.
 
Part of this exhibit includes the Coral Lab exhibit that shows how WCS scientists actually grow coral at the aquarium. This tank will feature many live coral species with coral polyps in various stages of growth.  
 
Africa’s Great Lakes
The next gallery within Conservation Hall features two freshwater lakes of Africa: Lake Malawi and Lake Victoria. The main exhibit depicts Africa’s Lake Malawi, home to more species of fish than any other lake on Earth. There are more than 1,000 different species, most found nowhere else in the world, in all colors of the rainbow. It is often a challenge for these animals to survive in such a crowded space. This exhibit explains the unique survival skills of these native fish, which include dwarf cichlids such as yellow labido and red-finned utaka, all on display here.
 
A secondary exhibit tells the story of Lake Victoria and how its ecosystem was virtually destroyed when an invasive species was introduced. Animals on display here include silver fulu, Christmas fulu, and mbiru.
 
There are two critically endangered fish species that will be on display in a fully functioning Malagasy Lab: bedotia and pachypanchax, both native to Madagascar. WCS is breeding these fish in this open-view lab at the aquarium with the hope of one day reintroducing them to their natural habitat.
 
Brazil’s Flooded Forest
This third and final gallery features the Amazonian flooded forest in Brazil. The primary exhibit is dramatic and emphasizes the spectacular transformation that takes place in this forest as an area the size of Florida goes completely underwater every six months. Visitors will see the unique ecosystem created when the rains come and the amazing fish and rays that migrate into the flooded forest in search of food and mates.
 
A secondary exhibit highlights a school of gleaming piranhas, an interesting and often misunderstood animal of the flooded forest.    
 
The last part of this exhibit shows how local people in South America can support their families while protecting their natural resources. Tetras, tiny glittery fish found in the flooded forest tributaries, help to highlight a creative solution that shows how people can make a living helping wildlife. Visitors will learn how WCS is working to implement this idea in areas throughout South America.
 
Visitors are invited to celebrate the opening of Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef at a special public event, April 16 – 24, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aquarium-goers will have the opportunity to experience global culture and entertainment while learning about underwater life through exciting performances and hands-on activities.
 
Invaluable Support
Conservation Hall and Glover’s Reef was made possible through the commitment and vision of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Councilmember Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin, and Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinksey.

Contact:
Barbara Russo – 718-265-3428; brusso@wcs.org
Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182; mpulsinelli@wcs.org
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189; sfairchild@wcs.org

 
The One and Only Coney: There's a full calendar of exciting events in Coney Island for summer 2011, headlined by the opening of the new Scream Zone and the return of Luna Park! Scream Zone will open on Stillwell Avenue and feature adult- and teen-geared thrill rides, including a human slingshot, the Zenobio and two new steel roller coasters. Luna Park will return with its 19 fun-filled rides including Air Race. There's also the tried and true thrills and all-out joy of the Cyclone Rollercoaster, the Wonder Wheel, the family-friendly New York Aquarium featuring the brand new Conservation Hall and Glover's Reef, Nathan's Famous hot dogs, a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game and the ever popular Beach and Boardwalk. Plus there are the "Coney Only's:" one-of-a-kind events like the Mermaid Day Parade, Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, Friday Night Fireworks and so much more! Visit www.ConeyIslandFunGuide.com for all the latest information on Coney Island's unique events and attractions! And make sure to come out this summer and enjoy The One and Only Coney!

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.

Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium opens every day of the year at 10am, and closing times vary seasonally. Admission is $14.95 for adults, $10.95 for children ages 3-12 and $11.95 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 web site 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.

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can support these projects, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation.

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