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New York Aquarium to reopen after Hurricane Sandy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Aquarium plans to reopen in late spring, nearly eight months after surging seas from Hurricane Sandy flooded the tourist attraction, killing some invertebrates and freshwater fish while sparing the mammals and most sea creatures.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, owner of the aquarium in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, estimated damage at $65 million and announced the reopening on Tuesday, declining to be more specific about the exact reopening date.

Sandy made landfall on October 29, killing more than 130 people with a record storm surge that destroyed low-lying coastal areas of New York and New Jersey. Coney Island fronts the Atlantic Ocean.

The aquarium, which said it attracts 750,000 visitors a year, is seeking private donations. Public officials called the aquarium's recovery an important for the revitalization of South Brooklyn and a marker for storm recovery.

Atlantic water surged over and under the Coney Island Boardwalk to completely or partially flood all the buildings at the 14-acre (5.7-hectare) park, destroying or damaging infrastructure including aquatic life support systems, the aquarium said.

"Losses in the collection were minimal and limited to fish and invertebrates housed in a few tanks," the aquarium said in a statement.

Most of the sea creatures remained safe in their tanks, although a baby walrus named Mitik was happily swimming through storm surge waters on the first floor and a 3-foot (1-metre) American eel was found alive in a staff shower stall, The New York Times reported.

Among the casualties were freshwater koi, the Times said.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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