New York Aquarium Plans $150 Million Renovation, Including New Shark Exhibit


new-york-aquarium1New Yorkers can go under the sea in Brooklyn without stepping off the Boardwalk.

The New York Aquarium has plenty of wet and wild activities on deck this spring: from a new sea otter pup and baby pot-bellied sea horses, to the Conservation Hall’s great lakes of Africa exhibit that opened last year.

But this fall, the Coney Island institution is breaking ground on a $150 million renovation project, which includes the jaw-dropping exhibit “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” where guests can walk through a tunnel while the mighty predators swim overhead.

“We’re breaking down the wall that now encloses the aquarium and opening us not only to the Boardwalk, but to the beach and the ocean,” explains aquarium director Jon Forrest Dohlin.

The 55,000-square-foot, three-story space will open to the public in spring 2015. It boasts a roof-deck overlooking the ocean, and a cafe, seating wall and sculptures on the iconic Boardwalk below.

The cathedral-like open ocean shark tank will be the jewel in aquarium’s new crown.

Schools of native fish and about 35 local sharks, including nurse sharks, blacktip reef sharks and sand tigers, will swim inside the 500,000-gallon tank. A coral reef tunnel will give guests a 360-degree shark experience.

The WCS New York Aquarium expects to raise $30 million over 10 years to cover the cost of the new exhibit. They hope the city will foot the rest of the bill to help breathe new life into the aging aquarium.

“We’re the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States, and we were the biggest and the best back in the day,” says Dohlin, “but over time we have fallen behind the curve.

“It’s time that New York once again has one of the biggest and best aquariums in the world … and it takes a lot of money to do this.”

The aquarium will remain open while the upcoming exhibition is under construction. “We encourage people to come out,” says Dohlin. “There won’t be any change to most exhibits.”

Only the existing sharks will be temporarily relocated within the park while their old space is torn down to build the new one.

For now, New Yorkers can whet their appetite with “Sea Lion Encounters” beginning in April, plus the daily feedings of sea otters, walruses and penguins while they wait for “Ocean Wonders” to open.

“We live in an ocean wilderness that is amazing and surprising because it’s right here in one of the most urban centers in the world,” says Dohlin, “and the New York Aquarium is your entryway to the life above it and below.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Tickets are $14.95 adults, $11.95 seniors, $10.95 kids ages 3-12. Surf Ave. and W. Eighth St., Brooklyn. (718) 265-FISH or

{NY Daily News/ Newscenter}


  1. Why should our tax dollars have to go to fund this “experiment”? I agree that this Aquarium is a joke! The aquarium in the Bronx zoo is a lot better than this! There is almost nothing to look at! The Dolphin/seal show is a joke! Not worth a penny’s entrance fee!