As you may recall from watching acclaimed nature documentary Finding Nemo, being a fish is a rough gig, and for aquatic wildlife in the Cuyahoga, it pretty much sucks total butt. Never mind egg-munching barracudas, sadistic captors, and Ellen Degeneres—fish migrating through the Cuyahoga’s 5-mile ship channel downtown to the mouth of Lake Erie have to weather abrupt shifts in water temperature (like someone flushing while you’re taking a shower, except actually harrowing), your poopy poop-infused poopwater (sorry, "wastewater treatment plant bypasses"), inhospitable armored bulkheads, and whatever gross “urban runoff”—syringes, Doritos Locos taco sleeves, Machine Gun Kelly bandanas—you jerks chuck in there.
As Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization executive director Jane Goodman told the PD, “If fish are trying to migrate to the lake to spawn, they really have to work at passing through this ship channel.” It’s almost as bad as passing through the dreaded “Bravo channel.” Which is why Goodman is working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on a habitat restoration project to provide refuge for our fishy friends during their grueling journey—vegetation-filled fish “rest stops” installed in steel sheet pile bulkheads near the new bridge as part of the ODOT's Innerbelt plan.
Submerged aquatic vegetation, essential for ecosystem-wide functions like providing oxygen, trapping sediment, improving water quality, and sheltering larval fish and other small organisms, has steadily declined in the Cuyahoga, but Goodman hopes the revegetation will furnish “a little rest stop, a place to get some oxygen, for these fish that are living in really difficult circumstances.” Good on them for sticking a bunch of seagrass in the bulkheads, but we’re kinda holding out for underwater service plaza Sbarros for all the Cuyahoga’s weary travelers. But hey, at least they don’t have to dodge potholes.