Monday, July 30, 2012

Mussels in Manhattan - The Eco Way

The New York Times yesterday published an article about a new kind of development along Manhattan's East River.  It's an artificial mussel bed, specifically designed to encourage mussels to latch on to a rough concrete surface.

The habitat, two submerged V-shaped concrete troughs studded with about 340 rocks, is part of a new “eco-park” in the East River Waterfront Esplanade. The $165 million esplanade project, by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, extends about a mile and a half from Pier 35 down to the Battery Maritime Building. The corporation would not break out the cost of the mussel bed, whose home will be at Pier 35, near Rutgers Slip.


Photos:  New York City Economic Development Corporation

So why mussels in the East River?  Freshwater mussels are filter feeders that consume detritus, bacteria, algae, and diatoms.  As they feed, they clean huge quantities of water.  An individual mussel can filter more than 18 US gallons of water per day.  Mussels typically live en mass in dense beds (like the one they are trying to re-create on the East River) and are ideal for cleaning large bodies of water in an eco-friendly way.

Note the mussels will NOT be for consumption - the bed will be adjacent to a sewer waterway, making them toxic to eat.

Kudos to all who are making this project real:  The designers of the esplanade are SHoP Architects and Ken Smith Landscape Architect; engineering is by a joint venture between HDR and Arup. Ocean and Coastal Consultants served as structural marine engineer for the mussel bed.

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