WCS's New York Aquarium Receives New York City Approval for Ocean Wonders: Shark

  • 500,000 gallons, swimming with sharks, sea turtles, rays,and thousands of schooling fish
  • An iconic element of the aquarium’s 10-year transformation
  • “Ocean Wonders: Shark will inspire New Yorkers to celebrate the city’s maritime heritage and attract more visitors and business to Brooklyn’s oceanfront.” 
  • Groundbreaking: 2012

Brooklyn, New York – Dec. 14, 2010 – The Wildlife Conservation Society has received approval from the New York City Public Design Commission for Ocean Wonders: Shark – a 50,000 square-foot structure featuring 115 species of marine animals, including more than 40 sharks.

Ocean Wonders: Shark is a key component of A SEA CHANGE, a 10-year partnership launched in September 2009 by WCS, the City of New York, and the Borough of Brooklyn. A Sea Change includes two transformative programs: a renewal of WCS's New York Aquarium featuring new, innovative architecture and exhibits; and a renewal of WCS's commitment to local conservation with the New York Seascape, a marine conservation program that will build understanding, awareness, and protection of the waters from Montauk, N.Y., to Cape May, N.J., and the Long Island Sound.

This iconic building, expected to be completed in 2015, will redefine the aquarium and further the revitalization of Coney Island. A shimmering spiral ramp will wrap the building from inside the aquarium campus to the boardwalk, where beachgoers will relax in newly created gathering spaces. This 1,000-foot long dynamic wall will be made of small aluminum squares that move with the wind and shimmer in the sunlight. Inside, visitors will encounter a diverse group of sharks while connecting to the waters and marine life in New York and around the globe.

“Ocean Wonders: Shark will inspire New Yorkers to celebrate the city’s maritime heritage and attract more visitors and business to Brooklyn’s oceanfront,” said Steve Sanderson, WCS President and CEO. “WCS extends appreciation to all our partners of A Sea Change, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Parks and Recreation, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and Councilman Domenic Recchia.

“We aim to fund this renaissance by harnessing public and private support from all those who wish to be leaders in this unprecedented effort to reinvent our city’s 114-year-old aquarium.”

Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium, added, “We are creating an unforgettable experience that will celebrate the oceans and marine life, educate future conservationists, and advance WCS efforts to protect seascapes in New York and across the globe.”

New York City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., whose district includes Coney Island, said, “This exciting new shark exhibit will attract people from far and wide to visit the New York Aquarium. It’s been a dream of mine to have a world-class shark exhibit at the New York Aquarium, and this brings us one step closer to making that dream a reality. The revitalization of Coney Island is already attracting record-breaking crowds and Ocean Wonders: Shark is an important piece of our ultimate goal -- establishing Coney Island as the biggest, best year-round tourist destination in the world.”

The building design was inspired by nature; its organic form derived from landforms carved by water. Integral to the structure is the spiral ramp unveiling spectacular ocean views. The ramp leads visitors to a roof deck with an interactive gathering space, a water play sculpture area, and a touch tank featuring local species.

The species that will be on exhibit in the building’s more than 500,000 gallons of water will include: sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, sandbar sharks, whitetip reef sharks, blacktip reef sharks, wobbegong sharks, Port Jackson sharks, roughtail rays, clearnose skates, thorny skates, cownose rays, loggerhead sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, and thousands of schooling fish.

The building and the exhibit designs of Ocean Wonders: Shark are a collaborative effort led by WCS’s design team, the Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department; The Portico Group, and the consultant team including Doyle Partnership. The Architect of Record is New York City-based, Edelman Sultan Knox Wood. Ned Kahn, of Sebastopol, CA, is the artist of the shimmer wall.

The New York Aquarium, which dates back to 1896 and is Brooklyn’s top cultural attraction, is the oldest continuously operating aquarium in the United States, with three quarters of a million people visiting every year. It is an officially designated Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center and a touchstone for science education citywide. In 2010 alone, 15,590 children participated in formal education programs at WCS’s New York Aquarium and nearly 142,160 schoolchildren visited the aquarium as part of a school, a camp, or a youth group. 

Contact:  
Barbara Russo - 718-265-3428; Cell: 917-494-5493; brusso@wcs.org
Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182; Cell: 571-218-7601; mpulsinelli@wcs.org
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189; 914-263-8179; sfairchild@wcs.org


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. www.wcs.org.


Wildlife Conservation Society's 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 web site at http://www.nyaquarium.com. Now is the perfect time to visit and show support for the WCS New York Aquarium, Brooklyn's most heavily attended cultural attraction and a beloved part of the City of New York.

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