If you’re hearing some new foreboding sounds coming from Coney Island, it’s because the sharks have taken over. New Yorkers share their waters with 26 different species of the ocean’s most misunderstood predator, and now you can get face-to-face with 18 of them at the new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit at the New York Aquarium opening June 30.
The largest of them is the sand tiger shark, clocking in at more than 10 feet long, and they’re certainly the stars but not the sole attraction in the giant new three-story addition to the aquarium. The nine living “galleries” hold more than 115 species of sea life, from stingrays and loggerhead sea turtles to seahorses and skates.
Their settings, based on what’s right off the shores of New York, include a coral reef tunnel, a panorama of the Hudson Canyon (think of it as the Grand Canyon of the Atlantic Ocean), and a replica shipwreck — over 60 vessels rest at the bottom of the waters that surround the city.
Even the facade of the aquarium now looks like it’s underwater thanks to a new 1,100-foot-long Shimmer Wall made of 3,000 aluminum flaps that move with the wind. The exhibit actually leads visitors back outside, onto a spiral ramp along the side of the building and up to the roof, where unmatched views of the Boardwalk and the ocean stretch out before you.
But the focus is, rightly, always on the sharks, the essential notch at the top of the ocean’s food chain — but if we don’t all do our part, they may not be there much longer.
“Ocean Wonders: Sharks! is the perfect example of the higher purpose of zoos and aquariums,” says Jim Breheny, executive vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the aquarium. “You can’t go through this exhibit — where you can find yourself just inches from a shark — and not be inspired to join our effort to save sharks and the ocean.”
Ocean Wonders: Sharks! opens June 30. Through Sept. 3, the New York Aquarium is offering half-price admission: adult tickets are $14.95, and $11.95 for children 12 and under. The aquarium is located at Surf Avenue and West Eighth Street in Coney Island, Brookly.