24-Aug-08 An organization dedicated to the Chicago River has built a floating fish habitat across from Marina City. The Fish Hotel is a project by Friends of the Chicago River to restore the river into a more vibrant ecosystem. The habitat started out in 2005 just west of the Michigan Avenue bridge but this year it was moved just east of the Dearborn Street bridge.
Ozana Balan, Manager of McCormick Tribune Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, says the hotel was moved west in anticipation of the riverwalk expansion.
The three-level hotel includes floating and submerged plants, brush, logs, etc., as well as cribs at various depths for fish to eat and sleep in. Nets around the hotel keep water fowl from eating the plants.
Sunfish, bluegills, carp, trout and salmon used to be more plentiful when the river was a shallow marsh. Dredging and channeling made it less fish-friendly.
Friends monitors the Fish Hotel and improvements are made every year based on our observations, says Balan. This year, for example, we have added a new layer of aquatic plants to provide a richer underwater habitat.
Fish can get stressed out in the Chicago River, explains Balan, especially from water turbulence caused by passing boats. The cribs, she says, provide a shady resting area for the fish and help mitigate the water turbulence.
(Above) Illustration by Friends of the Chicago River showing the parts of the fish habitat constructed across from Marina City. (Click on image to view larger version.)
Since 1979, Friends of the Chicago River has been working to improve the health of the entire 156-mile Chicago River system and its surrounding watershed.
Friends of the Chicago River web site
By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | Published 24-Aug-08 3:25 AM
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