Over on the lonesome eastern shore of Greenpoint, where massive tulip-shaped structures loom large over the horizon and process sludge from outer-borough toilets, life is beginning anew.

Newtown Creek is now home to tiny fish, shrimp, and mussels, and thanks to some innovative efforts from the Newtown Creek Alliance, these certified New Yorkers are putting down roots and buckling down for the long haul.

With funding from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, the NCA has built a floating structure (called the Living Dock) that provides a much-needed habitat for these marine organisms.

The long and short of it is that life forms are returning as water quality continues to improve, but a lot of their natural habitat has been lost — particularly along the shores, which now feature thick walls that extend all the way to the bottom and block off the intertidal space where many of those creatures thrive. The sediments along the bottom of the Creek are also still highly contaminated.


The idea with the dock was to more or less recreate a healthy environment using reclaimed cedar, 30-gallon food barrels for flotation, and plastic milk crates, adding plants that would normally exist in a salt marsh environment with a sloping shoreline. The other inhabitants moved in fairly quickly: fish, shrimp, mussels, barnacles, sea squirts, slipper snails, plankton, and what are casually referred to as “roly-polies of the ocean.”

The end game not only involves encouraging life to thrive, but to harness the presence of native plants and animals to filter more toxins out of the water, as bivalves are wont to do.


NCA will also be partnering with the North Brooklyn Boat Club to bring visitors to the dock via canoe and bring them in on the educational fun.

Still absent from the party: oysters. But given their prolific abilities to absorb toxins, it would still be quite some time before Newtown Creek oysters would find their way on to your raw bar menu.

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