• gowanuscanalconservancy

Take A Virtual Field Trip: Salt Marsh!

Updated: May 18, 2020

Did you know that plants live together in communities? Plant communities are groups of plants sharing a common environment that interact with each other, animal populations, and the physical environment. In this video, you’ll explore the Wetlands plant community at the Salt Lot.

A wetland is land that is saturated with water, such as a swamp or salt marsh. Did you know the Gowanus Canal used to be a salt marsh? Salt marshes are coastal wetlands that are constantly flooded and drained by salt water brought in by ocean tides. A salt marsh is a wetland where fresh water and ocean water mix (brackish). As with other habitats, wetlands must provide food, water, shelter, and space for wildlife. In a salt marsh, species like shore birds, small fish, crabs, and mussels live among grasses and feed on insects, fish, and micro-organisms. Lenape Native Americans used the Gowanus Creek and salt marsh for fishing and foraging shellfish. European settlers covered up most of this salt marsh over 150 years ago and made a canal, a straight and narrow waterway with hard edges. This canal was used by boats to transport materials and food for a growing population in Brooklyn. Factories along the canal polluted the water and it became unhealthy for plants and animals. When the Gowanus salt marsh was covered up, we lost an important ecosystem of plants and animals!

Gowanus Canal Conservancy planted a small salt marsh with Salt Marsh Cordgrass to help restore a small patch of this ecosystem. It’s working! After several years, the grasses have grown tall and strong and provide habitat to crabs and small fish! Soon, we will have another small salt marsh along the Gowanus Canal when the 1st St. Turning Basin is restored! It will provide more habitat for fish, crabs, mussels, and other marine life we would like to see again in the Gowanus Canal. Watch this video, then explore the interactive image and find the different plant, animal, and insect species that live together in the Wetland plant community.

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