News Releases

Ocean Wonders: Sharks! to Open Sat., June 30 at WCS's New York Aquarium

“This exciting new shark exhibit will inspire our visitors to help conserve these amazing animals and awaken them to the reality that the city that never sleeps is surrounded by the sea that never sleeps.”

Jon Forrest Dohlin, Director of the New York Aquarium and WCS VP

Coney Island , New York |  June 11, 2018

Media Contacts:
Max Pulsinelli: 718-220-5182 (w); 571-218-7601 (m);
Mary Dixon: 347-840-1242 (m);

The Wildlife Conservation Society will hold a grand opening of its New York Aquarium’s Donald Zucker and Barbara Hrbek Zucker Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit on Saturday, June 30, 2018.  The aquarium opens 10 a.m. year-round.

The new exhibit will amaze visitors as they journey through nine galleries breathtakingly eye-to-eye with sharks, rays and hundreds of species of ocean wildlife. As you explore the exhibit, the wondrous world deep below the ocean surface is revealed, whether it is in the Coral Reef Tunnel, The New York Bight or the dark and mysterious Hudson Canyon’s Edge with large sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, nurse sharks and hundreds of marine species which live off the coast of New York.

Donald Zucker and Barbara Hrbek Zucker Ocean Wonders: Sharks!, a three-story, 57,500-square-foot exhibit building, will drive awareness of the importance of sharks to the health of the world’s oceans; educate visitors about the severe threats sharks face; and inspire guests with the diversity of marine wildlife that exists in the waters around the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut tri-state area. Through cutting-edge and innovative displays, including a shipwreck and shark tagging vessel, the exhibit will create a new generation of conservation stewards. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors, and tens of thousands of students in the aquarium’s education programs will learn to value and protect our ocean.

In total, Ocean Wonders: Sharks! will showcase more than 115 marine species, including 18 species of sharks and rays, to tell the 450 million-year-old-story of sharks; their role as top predators; their vulnerability in a world where 100 million sharks every year are lost to unsustainable fishing; and the surprising diversity of sharks and other wildlife in the waters of New York. The exhibit will highlight the work that WCS’ New York Aquarium scientists are doing to protect sharks throughout the region, as well as the conservation efforts of WCS experts globally to protect sharks; and illustrate how the choices we all make in our day-to-day lives affects sharks and their marine habitats.

“The opening of Ocean Wonders: Sharks! is a transformative moment for the New York Aquarium. The exhibit inspires awe and admiration for sharks and opens our visitors’ eyes to what they truly are – keystone species in the world’s ocean which, as top predators, helps to regulate the populations of other species, bringing a vital balance to a healthy ocean. The exhibit will connect millions of visitors with the wildlife and habitats in New York waters and expands the Wildlife Conservation Society's global commitment to shark and ray conservation,” said WCS CEO and President Cristián Samper.

“We want to thank the administrations of Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Mike Bloomberg; the New York City Council including current and former Council Members Mark Treyger and Domenic Recchia; current and former Brooklyn Borough Presidents Eric Adams and Marty Markowitz; former Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro; and the Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

“We further extend great appreciation to WCS life trustee Barbara Hrbek Zucker and her husband, Donald Zucker, the entire WCS Board of Trustees and other private donors who have generously contributed to the building of Oceans Wonders: Sharks!. Both the public and private supporters of Ocean Wonders: Sharks! have shown strategic leadership advancing the imperative that we must protect sharks, their habitats and our ocean.”

Said Jon Forrest Dohlin, Director of the New York Aquarium and WCS Vice President:, “This exciting new shark exhibit will inspire our visitors to help conserve these amazing animals and awaken them to the reality that the city that never sleeps is surrounded by the sea that never sleeps. With Ocean Wonders: Sharks!, we will bring New Yorkers the miracle of this ocean wilderness surrounded by 20 million people.  

“I want to thank all our colleagues throughout WCS who joined in the building of Ocean Wonders: Sharks! during the most difficult time of the aquarium’s history following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy. It is a tremendous accomplishment that has resulted in the most significant exhibit for the New York Aquarium since it first opened in 1896 at Castle Garden in Battery Park.”

Jim Breheny, WCS EVP of Zoos & Aquarium and Director of the Bronx Zoo said, “Ocean Wonders: Sharks! is a perfect example of the higher purpose of zoos and aquariums -- the conservation of wildlife and wild places. You can’t go through this exhibit -- where you can find yourself just inches from a shark -- and not be inspired to join our efforts to save sharks and the ocean.”

Home of Marine Science

Ocean Wonders: Sharks! is a platform that illustrates the power of the New York Aquarium’s marine conservation efforts, the New York Seascape program. It showcases the conservation work of New York Aquarium scientists both in the field and at the aquarium. Objectives of the conservation program include: securing habitat protection for juvenile sand tiger sharks; tagging sharks to study their migration patterns and promoting better management of their fisheries; developing the science for successful propagation of sand tiger sharks at the aquarium; increasing the monitoring of great whale migrations in and out of New York waters to reduce ship strikes; and working with the offshore wind energy industry to create guidelines for the protection of marine mammals. Worldwide WCS invests in ocean protection, sustainable fisheries and marine conservation.

Education As a Priority

The aquarium’s Education Department is taking full advantage of the power of Ocean Wonders: Sharks! to build programs that inspire guests of the aquarium, and the millions of tourists on the nearby boardwalk and beach. About 60,000 youth and adults are anticipated to participate each year in the aquarium’s education programs. The Oceanview Learning Laboratory located on the top floor of Ocean Wonders: Sharks! is a 1,500-square-foot education space with ocean views and an outdoor terrace. The aquarium’s education team will provide live interpretation throughout the exhibit; a rooftop touch tank; dive talks; a new overnight program; and a re-imagined summer camp.

The Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Architecture

Ocean Wonders: Sharks!, a new iconic addition to the New York City skyline, interprets the wonders of the ocean, creating a structure that is inspired by nature with a façade that is alive and visually magnetic. Rising seamlessly from the famed Coney Island boardwalk in sweeping curves, the dramatic design is the product of a team headed by WCS’ Susan Chin, Vice President of Planning & Design and Chief Architect, in collaboration with Edelman Sultan Knox Wood/Architects, Doyle Partners, and Seattle-based interdisciplinary design firm, The Portico Group.  The organic form of the building cantilevers over the boardwalk, creating a new and dynamic relationship between the New York Aquarium and the surrounding community and forming unique gathering spaces for the boardwalk visitor. The kinetic beauty of the 1,100-foot-long Shimmer Wall wraps around the fluid forms of the Ocean Wonders: Sharks! building, creating a dynamic structure that is ever-changing and driven by the forces of nature. Designed in collaboration with visual artist Ned Kahn, the Shimmer Wall is constructed of more than 33,000 4” x 5 ½” aluminum flappers that move individually with the wind. Ocean Wonders: Sharks! has received a LEED Silver Certification, achieved through multiple strategies related to water efficiency, sustainable sites, energy use and materials. The project was recognized by the New York City Public Design Commission with an Award for Excellence in Design.

Said Chin: “The architecture evokes the natural world and reflects the function within; an engaging exhibit that connects people to the ocean and inspires their stewardship. Ocean Wonders: Sharks! is transformative in many ways for the New York Aquarium and Coney Island’s community and visitors.”

Sustainable Seafood and Plastic-Free Retail

As part of the message and the mission of Ocean Wonders: Sharks! the New York Aquarium will now sell only sustainable seafood options, use green packaging and focus on eliminating all single-use plastic including straws, cups, bags and other items in its restaurants and retail outlets. The aquarium has partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium in selecting seafood and merchandise options to ensure the sustainability of food options and to minimize the use of plastics in packaging, utensils, and merchandise. Single-use plastic is polluting our waterways across the globe, damaging habitats and bringing great harm to wildlife.

The Financing of Ocean Wonders: Sharks!

Ocean Wonders: Sharks! and its supporting Animal Care Facility has an estimated cost of $158 million ($111 million from New York City, and $47 million from generous private funders and tax exempt financing). When fully restored from Hurricane Sandy (in 2020), the aquarium, which was devastated by the storm, is expected to generate over $80 million annually in direct and indirect economic activity, of which Ocean Wonders: Sharks! is estimated to contribute over $20 million. The aquarium is expected to employ the full-time equivalent of almost 300 jobs of which more than 80 would be attributed to Ocean Wonders: Sharks!.

Select photos for media (Credit as labeled):
Julie Larsen Maher © WCS / Susan Chin © WCS:

HD b-roll download:
Credit © WCS:


The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium

The WCS New York Aquarium is located in Coney Island, NY. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, it is open every day of the year. For more information go to




Stand for Wildlife

© 2020 Wildlife Conservation Society

WCS, the "W" logo, WE STAND FOR WILDLIFE, I STAND FOR WILDLIFE, and STAND FOR WILDLIFE are service marks of Wildlife Conservation Society.

2300 Southern Boulevard Bronx, New York 10460 (718) 220-5100