Nature’s Tools Help Clean Up Urban Rivers

By YES! Magazine, Katherine Rapin, January 5, 2023

On a recent summer morning near Camden, New Jersey, two divers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hovered over a patch of sediment 10 feet below the surface of the Delaware River. With less than 2 feet of visibility in the churning estuary, they were transplanting a species crucial to the ecosystem: Vallisneria americana, or wild celery grass. One diver held a GoPro camera and a flashlight, capturing a shaky clip of the thin, ribbon-like blades bending with the current.

Watching the divers’ bubbles surface from the EPA’s boat was Anthony Lara, experiential programs supervisor at the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, who had nurtured these plants for months in tanks, from winter buds to mature grasses some 24 inches long.