At the Coney Island Aquarium, Sea Life Goes On
It was just a few short weeks ago that the New York media was gushing over the arrival of Mitik — the adorable baby walrus — to the New York Aquarium, where he seemed to be loving city life. But when Hurricane Sandy hit last week, sending more than 12,000 water animals into darkness, the aquarium, just off the boardwalk in Coney Island, faced the biggest challenge of its life. The aquarium’s basement flooded with 15 feet of water, damaging generators and cutting electricity. Tanks full of freshwater fish were doused with murky storm overflow, while the ground floors — home to the major exhibits — filled with up to three feet. For four days straight, aquarium staff worked around the clock to make sure the animals were safe — many of them neglecting their own damaged homes. Eighteen stayed through the storm. “It was an intense couple of days,” says aquarium director Jon Dohlin.
The aquarium is now closed indefinitely, and struggling to recover — with generators powering the exhibits’ environmental controls. We went behind-the-scenes to see firsthand.
This story was produced in partnership with WNYC. The aquarium is taking donations here.