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IN THE SWIM

The New York Aquarium gala honors Coney Island’s big fish

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As Hurricane Isabel stormed her way up the coast, the New York Aquarium bravely went ahead with its annual gala in the Seaside Pavilion in Coney Island on Sept. 18.

Hundreds of guests - with barely a hair blown out of place - were able to dine, dance and pay tribute to honorees Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Assemblywoman Adele Cohen and City Councilman Domenic Recchia.

It was a miracle.

A few minor adjustments to the event lineup made for a seamless evening. Rather than a show in the roofless amphitheater, the guests were greeted by a tank full of floating stingrays, bonnethead sharks and waving scuba divers.

Instead of the usual cocktails served al fresco alongside the appropriately bedecked penguins and gregarious walruses, the drinks were moved inside the Sea Cliffs building in galleries that looked onto their underwater lairs - where guests had the perfect view to admire just how well-endowed the walrus bull really is.

The prevailing curatorial wisdom is that procreating animals are happy animals, and happily, revelers were able to coo at a new fur seal arrival. Two-month old fur seal pup Sam, the progeny of 13-year-old mom Roxie and 11-year-old dad Yoda, zipped around the tank for all to see.

(Which reminds me of the Aquarium’s next singles event, "Sex in the Sea," on Oct. 11, at 7 pm. In the ocean world, animals increase their population in a variety of unusual ways, and methinks that even Samantha of "Sex and the City" would be interested to learn more. The (cheap!) $40 fee gets you a tour of the Aquarium to learn how marine animals "fall in love," while enjoying an evening of wine and cheese and, hopefully, new friends.)

Among the evening’s luminaries were honorary dinner chair Borough President Marty Markowitz and his wife, Jamie; Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, Wildlife Conservation Society CEO Steven Sanderson and Aquarium Curator Paul Sieswerda, author of the 2001 book, "Sharks" (Benchmark Books).

Happily there weren’t any threatening predators at this gala party, catered by Glen Cove, Long Island-based Elegant Affairs, and the only circling of prey was being done by the guests eyeing the bidding at the silent auction table filled with temptations ranging from cruises to laptops.

The "Dinner by the Sea" raised funds to support the Aquarium’s education programs and Osborn Laboratories of Marine Science, which is currently focusing on aquatic research projects such as marine mammal cognition, shark migration, coral reefs and new marine pharmacological substances.

The three honorees were awarded Distinguished Leadership Awards for their dedication and support of the New York Aquarium.

"This is an example of when swimming with the fishes is an honor," Markowitz told GO Brooklyn.

While Brooklynites like to think of the New York Aquarium as their best kept secret, it was discovered this week by director Marc Forster ("Monster’s Ball") and his film crew who have been filming scenes for the upcoming movie "Stay," starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. Look for our landmark in a theater near you next year.

To make a reservation for the Aquarium’s "Sex in the Sea" event, call (718) 265-3448.


Model employee

Supermodel Tyson Beckford was spotted on 86th Street at Stillwell Avenue Saturday as one of the actors on the set of writer-director Paul Borghese’s new film "Searching for Bobby DeNiro."

Borghese’s film also features Bensonhurst native and co-writer William DeMeo ("Analyze That"), Daniel Margotta (Cheech in Fred Gallo’s new movie "I am Woody"), James Maddio and Karen Lynn Gorney ("Saturday Night Fever).

Borghese’s no stranger to directing films filled with muscle-bound men, having helmed several of Playgirl magazine’s video shoots, including "The Hottest Hunks of South Florida Competition."

Oh, you know you bought it, too.


Wined & dined

Co-authors Tony DiDio, of Carroll Gardens, and Amy Zavatto basked in the glow of their book release party on Sept. 3 at Daniel restaurant in Manhattan. Their new book, "The Renaissance Guide to Wine and Food Pairing" (Alpha, $18.95) was the starting point from which celebrity chefs such as Daniel Boulud (who wrote a foreward for the guide), Rick Moonen of RM, Mauro Mafrici of I Trulli Ristorante Enoteca, Michael Lomonaco of Noche, and Johnny Iuzzini of Jean-Georges created dishes that perfectly complemented heady wines and vice versa.

Lomonaco and Moonen lent their insights into the mysteries of wine and food pairing to the book, too.

Among the satiated fans in attendance were Tribeca Grill’s Drew Nieporent, Fresco’s Anthony Scotto and Fox News anchor Rosanna Scotto.

"The Renaissance Guide to Wine and Food Pairing" is available at BookCourt, 163 Court St. at Dean Street in Cobble Hill.

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