check out the latest


Reimagining Aquariums at Staten Island Ferry Terminal

August 24, 2018

Staten Island Ferry Terminal Aquariums
Will Become Educational Exhibit with Billion Oyster Project

This summer, the Billion Oyster Project in cooperation with the New York City Department of Transportation, Division of Ferries, will initiate a partnership to re-design the aquariums at Staten Island Ferry Terminal. While the tanks have historically displayed fish and acted as a welcoming exhibit for the terminal, they will now take on an educational purpose, themed around New York City’s Billion Oyster Project. The tanks will close in August 2018 and re-open with educational content in the new year. 30,000 commuters per day, and 2–4 million tourists per year, use the Staten Island Ferry and pass by these twin fish tanks.

The Billion Oyster Project (BOP), a nonprofit initiative located on Governors Island, is working to restore oyster reefs to New York Harbor through public education programs, collaborating with New York City communities, New York City Department of Education, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and many other organizations. Oyster reefs provide habitat for thousands of species. They also help to protect New York City from storm damage—softening the blow of large waves, reducing flooding, and preventing erosion along the shorelines.

A committee is in formation to help exchange ideas on the new theme. New York Harbor School students will be at the table with Billion Oyster Project staff to lead the discussion. The various partners on the ferry terminal project will include: marine biologists, science educators, museum curators, fisheries experts, aquarists, and design professionals. Participants will include S.I. Borough President’s office, NYC Department of Transportation, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, government partners, the College of Staten Island, and other Staten Island voices. Among those organizations invited to participate are the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Aquarium, and the Liberty Science Center.

The first phase of the transformation of the Ferry Aquariums is made possible through a generous grant from the Northfield Bank Foundation and designed by SCAPE Landscape Architecture. The Ferry Aquariums are sponsored by Empire Outlets.

The interim design for one of the two tanks will highlight the Living Breakwaters Project. The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery’s Living Breakwaters project is an innovative $74 million green infrastructure project along the shoreline of southern Staten Island designed to reduce or reverse erosion and damage from storm waves, improve the ecosystem health of Raritan Bay, and encourage environmentally conscious stewardship of our nearshore waters. The project was initially developed by SCAPE landscape Architecture for the Rebuild by Design Competition, a design competition held and funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to seek cutting edge ideas for coastal resilience in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. A key element of the Living Breakwaters project is restoring a nurturing environment in the Bay that allows native species to be reestablished. The installation of oysters and oyster habitat is critical to this goal. Billion Oyster Project will enhance the Living Breakwaters project by installing oysters on and around the constructed breakwaters. These oysters will then grow and create a natural environment for other mollusks and fish. Billion Oyster Project is working with SCAPE Landscape Architecture; environmental, planning, and engineering consulting firm AKRF; Marine Engineering Consulting Firm (COWI); and design and consultancy firm Arcadis.

New York City was once known for its oysters. When Henry Hudson arrived in 1609, he had to navigate around 220,000 acres of oyster reefs. After years of pollution and overharvesting, New York Harbor was nearly lifeless for over 50 years. The Clean Water Act and other environmental laws improved water quality, making it possible for large-scale restoration projects like Billion Oyster Project to exist.

Billion Oyster Project aims to restore 1 billion oysters to New York Harbor through public education initiatives by the year 2035. Staten Island Ferry Terminal Aquarium will showcase elements of Billion Oyster Project’s work, while highlighting New York Harbor School students who take on a leadership role in growing oysters, designing and building oyster reef structures, diving to monitor reefs, operating boats, performing marine biology research, and more. 2018 marks the 15th anniversary of the New York Harbor School. Over 500 students attend the school.

Billion Oyster Project also collaborates with more than 70 schools across the city, providing opportunities for students to monitor oyster health and water quality as part of their STEM education experience. Classes care for an Oyster Research Station, an in-water structure containing oysters, near their school.

There are presently 13 schools participating in Billion Oyster Project on Staten Island, and Billion Oyster Project aims to add 5 more each year. Billion Oyster Project and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal hope that with the aquarium redesign, more students and families will get involved in making New York City and its waters safer and healthier for all.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Jennifer Ballesteros:
212.458.0800, ext 6516

Billion Oyster Project is a nonprofit initiative restoring oyster reefs to New York Harbor through public education initiatives. Launched in 2014, the project aims to restore one billion oysters to New York City waters by the year 2035. With the ability to filter water, provide habitat for many marine species, and help shield NYC shorelines from storm damage, oysters have the power to protect life in and out of the water.

To date, Billion Oyster Project has planted 26.5 million oysters so far, engaging 6,000+ students, 9,000+ volunteers, and 70+ NYC restaurant partners. The project’s hands-on science and restoration curriculum is taught at 70+ schools across the city. To follow the journey toward 1 billion oysters restored, subscribe to Billion Oyster Project’s e-newsletter at, and follow @billionoyster on Twitter and Instagram and @billionoysterproject on Facebook.