(NEW YORK) — New York City’s beaches officially open Saturday just months after being damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Another shoreline fixture, the New York Aquarium on Coney Island, is partially reopening, having been badly damaged by the storm.
The aquarium, which is a major money-maker for Coney Island, opened in 1957. The entire aquarium has been closed to the public since the October hurricane.
Part of the shore-front attraction remains closed for repairs, but a majority of the displays will be open to the public, according to Jon Forrest Dohlin, director of the New York Aquarium.
“All of our marine mammals will be on exhibit, our walruses, our sea lions, our harbor seals, our sea otters and our penguins will be out as well,” Dohlin said.
Dohlin told ABC News the storm killed so many fish the aquarium won’t be able to fully re-open until 2016, as Sandy flooded tanks with water that was filled with debris, and backup power was knocked out to all exhibits
“We had some freshwater fish outside in outdoor ponds that were inundated with the salt water,” he said. “We lost those animals. That was quite a tragedy and there was a couple of large tanks that we could not get to quickly enough to stabilize.”
Still, the Aquarium is looking forward to re-opining, even if it’s only partial.
“We have a very important role in the economy of Coney Island and of Brooklyn writ large,” Dohlin explained. “We do about 58 million dollars of economic activity, we’re a science education outreach juggernaut and we are a very important voice for marine conservation. So we decided it was important to get open in any way we could.”
Dolhlin says the animals are looking forward to the reopening as well.
“The animals, I think, have missed the day-to-day rhythm of having the public here,” he said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Lisa Respers France and Brian Stelter, CNN
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN
Lauren Jackson, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN