Gowanus Canal Trawling


TRAWL TESTED: Bridge Trawl & BUOY Trawl

On a humid and rainy day the Testing Our Waters team met at the Brooklyn Whole Foods (which sports an impressive vegetable garden and is powered by solar panels and vertical axis wind turbines) and prepared to trawl in the infamous Gowanus canal. 

The Gowanus canal has been victim to all manner of pollution, from industrial toxins to residential waste, and has been designated a Superfund site by the EPA. Trawling in this setting meant we had to prepare ourselves a little differently than we had in previous expeditions in order to protect ourselves from the very water we were trawling in! In practice - this meant gloves and a little more caution when examining our findings. 

First up we tested the Bridge Trawl. This is the cheapest and simplest trawl we have designed so far. It is constructed with the rim of a bucket, a paint filter and a plastic bottle (straight out of the recycling bin) filled with rocks and water to weight it down.

The Bridge Trawl worked really well. There was so much debris in the canal that we did lead the trawl so it would "catch" debris. This was not a random sample, this was us trying to see just what floats out the canal. It is hard to see plastic floating by without trying to capture it.

When we raised the trawl it was quite full. Just as in Raritan Bay there were many jelly fish in the waters - another sign of an unhealthy ecosystem. We tried to avoid them as best we could but we were not always successful. 

Ultimately we found a lot of plastic packaging and big blobs of stuff we couldn't identify. Scary stuff.. 

We also tested the Buoy Trawl. We altered the design by adding rocks to weigh down the trawl in an effort to see if it could used off a bridge.

We were a bit apprehensive about how well this trawl would do. Although there was a current it wasn't so fast... yet with the weight the trawl worked. It also picked up a disturbing amount of trash. 

Next we will be designing a trawl that can be dragged behind a kayak or canoe. So stay tuned...