New York Aquarium to remain closed for rest of year

November 19, 2012

Even though it has been three weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, the New York Aquarium still faces numerous challenges.

Jim Breheny, executive vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in a press release earlier this month that all 14 acres of the building were overtaken by salt water that surged during the storm. According to an article by The New York Times, the aquarium is expected to remain closed into next year. A new exhibit called “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” will continue with its construction and is expected to open in spring 2015.

Breheny said the Aquarium has restored power and life support systems. But it will remain closed for further repairs and has no immediate plans to relocate any animals.

“Since power went down during the storm and the ocean surged past the Coney Island Boardwalk, we have been working to pump out water from electrical and mechanical areas,” Breheny said in a press release. “The salt water from the surge caused extensive damage to this equipment, making the restoration effort more difficult.”

He also praised the heroism of the aquarium staff, who remained at the facility during the storm to keep the animals alive.

“The animal and veterinary staff provided all the necessary care to the fish, invertebrates and mammals as we worked to restore systems and power to the 14-acre facility,” Breheny said. “We have a long way to go toward assessing the damages and doing what we need to do to reopen the aquarium.”

The closing posed an inconvenience for NYU Environmental Studies professor
Jennifer Jacquet.

“I had assigned my students a visit to the New York Aquarium, and now it’s closed indefinitely, which is bad news for them and not good news for us,” Jacquet said. “My students went to the Central Park Zoo instead.”

It may be still too early to tell precisely how much impact Sandy will have on marine ecosystems, but Jacquet warned about the potential effects the storm may have.

“The potential for invasions is one major liability of a hurricane,” Jacquet said. “Some say Lionfish were introduced after Hurricane Andrew, for instance.”

With a devastating loss of business from visitors, the aquarium stressed that it needs donations now more than ever to continue its recovery efforts and reopen to the public.

Stern freshman Sarah Rothstein said she is hopeful that the aquarium will receive the assistance it needs.

“I have many fond childhood memories of the aquarium, and I would like to go see it again,” Rothstein said. “I hope that they can get the support necessary to recover from Sandy.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 19 print edition. Isaac Marshall is a staff writer. Email him st cstate@nyunews.com.

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