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Cleaning out the Gowanus canal, one kayak load at a time

Mom, dad and the kids helped sustain a marine habitat undergoing a rebirth during the ninth annual flotilla spring clean up along the Gowanus Canal for Earth Day.

Armed with scoop nets, paddle crafts, dredger canoes and a tidal wave of community spirit, the eco-vollies joined forces with like-minded neighbors to salute Mother Nature with a day of fun-filled marine activities designed to spruce up the famed waterway and its surrounding area.

Members of the Urban Divers and the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club organized a manicure and guided tour of the waterfront, including a cruise along the canal on a special dredger boat to collect floating refuse.

The crew made a stop at the 3rd Street bridge to check up on oysters, which reside in the canal and which have been naturally cleaning the waterway for the past five years.

Divers, who have explored almost every inlet of the canal and are stewards of the Gowanus Apple tree, acquainted visitors with the lore and history of the estuary, along which they have been organizing restoration-through-recreation events after the flushing pump was reactivated in 1999.

The Urban Divers are a non-profit divers collective, which helps raise awareness for the restoration, conservation and protection of our rivers, oceans and marine wildlife with a special focus towards the restoration of New York City waterways.

The group works as volunteers in conjunction with the River Project, a not-for-profit marine biology research station committed to the revitalization of the Hudson River.

For more information about how to help with canal projects visit

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