The Living Dock

In 2015 Newtown Creek Alliance created their first Living Dock, a 200 square foot floating structure designed to promote marine life. After noticing successes, including the return of young marine animals to the crevices of the docks and marsh plants, we constructed a second Dock during the 2018 Summer. The dock was towed and secured within the English Kills tributary in September 2018 (images below).

 Many of the sediments in Newtown Creek are highly polluted and nearly all of the natural intertidal area, once filled with gentle shorelines, has been replaced with vertical walls. Despite poor conditions wildlife is returning to the Creek, and native habitats like the Living Docks are critical to supporting their growth and development. The Dock provides a clean place for marsh grasses to live, shellfish to grow, bivalves to attach to, and marine animals to hide and feed. The Docks were designed and built by NCA using the following criteria:

A Place for Nature to Thrive.
Newtown Creek has great potential to utilize native species of plants and animals to help clean the fouled waters. Marine plant life and bivalves like mussels, oysters and clams can help filter the water of excessive nutrients and bacteria. Yet many of these crucial species have limited places to grow. To offer clean habitats for native species we have incorporated various salt marsh plant species and substrates. Ropes and stone provide more protection for killifish and shrimp while other materials, like oyster and clam shells, encourage barnacles, mussels and slipper snails.

A Platform for Education. 
The dock can host visitors to get a first hand look at the habitat units and numerous species that have been returning to Newtown Creek. In partnership with the North Brooklyn Boat Club, NCA can bring people to the dock via canoe as well. For more information on seeing the dock in person, email us!

Use Eco-Friendly Materials.
The dock utilizes a number of repurposed items such as reclaimed cedar (used for decking and structural support); 30 gallon food barrels (used for flotation) and plastic milk crates (used as uniform habitat units).

Document the Process. 
All work to date has been documented on the project’s website: The website provides a way for a larger community to learn from the dock without visiting the structure. Additionally, NCA has created a small booklet to document the design and construction of the dock; it can be viewed here.

The Living Dock project was made possible with funding provided by the New York State Office of the Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund. A second Living Dock was funded through the Lush Cosmetics Charity Pot, with labor and installation supported by the Billion Oyster Project and Broadway Stages, in 2018.