When thinking about BBP’s plants and animals, people probably think of pretty flowers, chirping songbirds, and green lawns. But do they think of algae? What about fish, crabs, and oysters? While less visible than the more conspicuous birds and bugs, these river dwellers are no less important to the health of the park’s ecosystems. BBP strives to be a home for all types of wildlife, both terrestrial and aquatic. And that’s where ECOncrete comes in.
ECOncrete is a company that creates marine infrastructure products that promote biological growth and habitation. They have developed a special concrete composite that closely resembles the texture and makeup of rock and coral. That composite facilitates the growth of algae, seaweed, oysters and other anchoring marine life, which creates a more inviting habitat for fish, crabs, and other organisms.
Two types of ECOncrete applications support the park’s aquatic inhabitants: experimental pile encapsulation, found on nine of the piles that support Pier 6, and tide pools, found among the rip rap at Pier 4 Beach, which are the first of their kind in the United States. ECOncrete scientists Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, and Dr. Andrew Rella recently came to check on the tide pools and see how the river’s denizens were settling into them.
They discovered an abundance of life in the pools, including algae, seaweed, crabs, fish larvae, and more. The most surprising find was a marine worm found on the underside of a rock in the pool. When Shimrit turned the rock over and saw this healthy specimen, her face positively lit up.
This growth far exceeded what could be seen on the surrounding rocks, and the marine biologists soon found why that was the case. The oxygen level in the water is twice as high in the tide pools as it is in the river - thanks to all the photosynthesizing seaweed and algae living there. Fish, crabs, and the like prefer a habitat with plenty of oxygen (don’t you?), which the tide pools offer. With that kind of environment, the pools are a veritable marine greenhouse perfect for all kinds of river life.
ECOncrete’s products will continue to support the native life of the East River and Brooklyn Bridge Park. They represent just one of the ways the park embodies sustainability. Each and every day, through active and passive means, the park supports all of the area’s local life forms, not just the human ones.