How can active marine industrial areas support underwater life?
After developing the Oyster-tecture concept for MoMA’s Rising Currents exhibition, SCAPE developed a pilot project to apply aquaculture techniques for mussel growth along a pier at the Sims Municipal Recycling (SMR) facility in the Gowanus Bay, an active industrial site.
Like oysters, mussels are filter feeders that remove excess nitrogen and contaminants from the water column. This pilot created mussel habitat using hand-woven ‘fuzzy rope’ panels as a substrate for growth. Fuzzy rope is an inexpensive polypropylene rope commonly used in the aquaculture industry, repurposed for habitat restoration to jump-start marine life in the sub-tidal and inter-tidal zones. To create the panels, SCAPE hosted a ‘fuzzy rope weaving evening,’ inviting friends and collaborators to our Lower Manhattan studio.
Along with the fuzzy rope, ECOncrete tiles were hung from the pier to test the efficacy of different concrete compositions and surface textures for mussel growth. SCAPE partnered with the New York Harbor School, Michael Judge (Brooklyn College), and SeArc Ecological Marine Consulting to monitor the fuzzy rope and tiles, collecting data and gauging its replicability at other sites. Between its installation in March 2013 and June of the same year, the project team observed between 6 and 20 blue mussels per linear foot, as well as a host of other species including green crabs, colonial and solitary tunicates, barnacles, amphipods, algae, and sea squirts. By 2017, the panels were teeming with ecological growth and supporting habitat for a variety of additional species.
To see more:
- Look at ecological growth along the pier in 2013.
- Look at the full extent of fuzzy rope habitat in 2017.
SeArc Ecological Marine Consulting
New York Harbor School
Michael Judge, Brooklyn College
Sims Municipal Recycling