Floodwaters remain on the floor of the aquarium's main exhibit structure. Murky fish tanks in the Sea Cliffs area of the 14-acre complex, home to Mitik the walrus. It was one of the structures most severely damaged in the storm. The aquarium is home to 12,000 creatures, the vast majority of which survived the storm. But there were a few fish casualties: freshwater fish whose tanks were flooded by murky saltwater. Under normal circumstances, a tank like this is almost clear -- with a slightly blue tinge. The aquarium's fish tanks are all open on the top, so many of them were doused with sea-water and rain.  Rescue teams have been pumping water out of the tanks consistently since the storm hit. Scuba gear hangs outside the Aquatic Theater, where the sea lions perform. The clock in aquarium director Jon Dohlin's office remains frozen at 7:50pm, when Sandy knocked out electricity. Staffers say Mitik, the baby walrus, remained happy and unscathed, in spite of the storm.

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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.

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(via skylovestoeat)


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