All photos The Brooklyn Papers

On Thursday, attendees of the New York
Aquarium’s Dinner by the Sea gala enjoyed a balmy evening as
they watched walrus feedings, honored conservationists and guiltily
ate delicious seafood appetizers.

The fundraiser was especially important to the aquarium, according
to Susann Holloway, the Aquarium’s associate manager of events
marketing, as last year’s gala was canceled because of Sept.
11. At Thursday’s fundraiser, $196,180 was raised. The funds
will go towards supporting the education and aquatic research
programs run by the aquarium, located at West Eighth Street and
Surf Avenue in Coney Island.

The evening began with cocktails served outside among the Sea
Cliffs, a re-creation of a rocky Pacific coastline, and continued
with dinner inside the Seaside Pavilion, adjacent to the new
"Alien Stingers" hall.

Distinguished leadership awards were presented to Wildlife Conservation
Society Trustee Brian Heidtke and his wife, Darlene Heidtke;
to Alan Fishman, president and CEO of Independence Community
Bank and president of the Independence Community Foundation (who
gushed to the crowd: "Isn’t the [’Alien Stingers’] exhibit
fabulous? Really fabulous?"); and to Wildlife Conservation
Society patrons Denise Sobel and Norman Keller of Breezy Point.

The awardees were chosen for their support of "Alien Stingers,"
a dreamy exhibit of jellyfish, corals and anemones that opens
on Sept. 27.

The Aquarium’s Conservation Award was presented to Joshua Reichert,
who accepted on behalf of the 2-year-old international ocean
advocacy organization, Oceana, based in Washington, D.C. Oceana
was honored for its work towards ending destructive fishing practices
and reducing ocean pollution. Reichert used his time at the microphone
to sound an alarm.

"Coral reef systems, which harbor a phenomenal amount of
life, are in decline throughout the world and many shallow-water
reefs are expected to be dead within the next two to three decades
if water temperatures continue to rise," said Reichert.
"[Humans] are rapidly destroying life in the sea."

Reichert praised the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates
the New York Aquarium, as well as the Bronx, Prospect Park, Central
Park and Queens zoos.

"The society has remained committed to making a difference
rather than simply making a statement, an approach which happily
distinguishes it from a number of its peers," said Reichert.
"While this way of doing business may not always produce
newspaper stories, it has earned you the respect of conservation
professionals all over the world for your integrity and your
dedication to actually producing tangible results on the ground."

While the aquarium does great work, it can be dangerous work
for the keepers. While handling the Lion’s Mane jellyfish in
the "Alien Stingers" exhibit, jellyfish aquarist Amy
Messbauer revealed the stings she received on her arm to GO Brooklyn.
However, the intrepid marine keeper dismissed the pain.

"I enjoy the challenge of culturing and breeding them,"
she said. "They’re so beautiful; they look like lava lamps."

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz received a warm welcome
while bestowing his proclamations. Other attendees included Assemblywoman
Adele Cohen and Mrs. Brooklyn, Jamie Snow Markowitz.

Catered by Glen Cove, Long Island-based Elegant Affairs, the
dinner included a salad served with a scrumptious beggar’s purse
(fashioned out of a crepe) that was filled with boursin cheese,
filet mignon and a sacher torte garnished with a sea star cookie.
While the dinner was expertly executed, the highlight of the
evening was definitely the sneak peek at the "Alien Stingers"
exhibit. Don’t miss it.

Klub Kino

DUMBO resident and famed actor and dancer Ben Vereen served as
master of ceremonies Aug. 28 at DUMBO Art Expo IV, held at the
Kino restaurant and lounge on Main Street.

The Expo is a team of artists led by curator Jan Larsen. The
monthly events include an art exhibit, live acts, a DUMBO Neighborhood
Service Award and after-party with "mad DJ skills"
– all for $8 at the door. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds
were donated to the DUMBO Neighborhood Association. (To date,
Larsen says $1,551 has been donated to DNA.)

Vereen, known for his work on television ("Roots")
and Broadway ("Pippin" and "Jelly’s Last Jam")
has had a resurgence of fame on Broadway of late starring opposite
Judd Hirsch in "I’m Not Rappaport." The Tony Award-winning
entertainer will star in a one-man-show at Brooklyn Center for
the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College on April 5.

The Art Expo returns to Kino on Oct. 3.

Opera baby, yeah

Michael York, who plays the role of Basil Exposition in all three
Austin Powers films, will be joined by pianist John Bell Young
in resurrecting a quite different production – the rarely performed
"Enoch Arden" (which will be released on CD by Americus
Records this month) – at the Brooklyn Music School this weekend.

The British film star will perform Richard Strauss’ melodramatic
setting of Tennyson’s poem at the school on Sept. 28 at 7:30
pm. The one-night-only concert is a benefit for the summer opera
program at the school, located at 126 St. Felix St., adjacent
to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Tickets for "Enoch Arden"
and a reception are $50.

For tickets and more information, call (718) 638-5660.

Postponed party

The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, at 58 Seventh Ave., announced
the postponement of its third annual gala, originally scheduled
to take place on Sept. 30 at Manhattan’s Laura Belle. The musical
tribute to honor the director of the Boys Choir of Harlem, Walter
Turnbull, with proceeds earmarked for the Brooklyn Conservatory
of Music’s Scholarship Fund, has been postponed until next spring.
The slumping economy and scheduling conflicts were cited as reasons
for the event’s postponement by the Conservatory’s Angela Harris.

The rescheduled fundraiser should be a memorable event as the
conservatory’s tribute to "Keeper of the Be-bop Flame"
Barry Harris last year included a hilarious impromptu performance
on piano by Bill Cosby.

For more information, or to make a donation to the Brooklyn Conservatory
of Music, call (718) 622-3300.