The Gowanus Canal is home to microbes that can only live there — because every other place in the world is just too clean!
That’s one of the many facts we learned on the latest edition of Brooklyn Paper Radio, on which Gowanus Canal Conservancy executive director Andrea Parker schooled hosts Vince DiMiceli and Anthony Rotunno on everything they need to know about Brooklyn’s Nautical Purgatory.
“They’ve evolved to be able to eat the coal tar at the bottom of the canal,” Parker said of the famous “Black Mayonnaise” that has covered the canal bed since the days nearby natural-gas refineries lined the waterway and dumped their waste into it.
And they are not the only things living in the canal, which Parker claims has come a long way from the days when some residents considered paving over the blight caused by years of abuse by humans.
“There are crabs, oysters, and lots of plant life,” she said.
But that doesn’t mean it is a pleasure for all your senses.
“It does still stink,” she said. “But that is mainly because of the human waste that still flows into it.”
DiMiceli then wondered if it was possible to hook up some type of filtration system like the Hayward filter he has on his pool at home.
“That water is crystal clear,” he said.
“Do you dump raw sewage into it?” Parker wondered.
“Well, sometimes there are some warm spots,” DiMiceli deadpanned.
But the highlight of the show (so important that we’re writing about it in paragraph 12) was a discussion about the slew of artifacts pulled from the fetid channel’s bed, and revealed for the first time on Monday live à la Geraldo Rivera and Al Capone’s vault.
Sadly, no cement shoes turned up, but they did find an old anchor and two interesting fossils.
“There was an old tree and wooden wagon wheel,” Parker said. “They were both petrified.”
“Anything in that water should be petrified,” DiMiceli said.
But don’t take it from us! Take a listen now.
Brooklyn Paper Radio is recorded and podcast live and can be found on Brook