Restoring a freshwater habitat usually means removing plastic bottles and other trash from the area, but one Montana-based company has found that elements of litter can also be used for cleaning up these critical environments instead. Biohaven bio-islands are made by Floating Island International from a non-woven matrix made of recycled plastic and injected with foam for buoyancy. When these artificial islands are installed on the surface of a freshwater creek or pond, they provide the perfect breeding ground for tiny microbes to grow and form a natural filtration system.
Image via Floating Island International
From the FII website: “When the island is launched, a microbe biofilm begins to grow inside and around it. When water is circulated through and across the island (often through the use of inexpensive solar- and wind-driven pumps), the aerobic microbes start to consume phosphates and ammonia, and anaerobic microbes begin to convert nitrates to harmless atmospheric gas.” Water quality problems caused by chemical pesticide and fertilizer runoff are cropping up in freshwater supplies all over the world. Protecting your body of water with a bio-island means preventing the elimination of fish and amphibian populations, and removing filamentous algae and other invasive species like duckweed and watermeal. The Biohaven floating islands represent an important advancement in the area of marine remediation technology, and were even approved by the U.S. Coast Guard to be part of the clean-up efforts following the Gulf oil spill. Although bio-islands are able to utilize nature’s food chain to clean up the oil containments, the government mysteriously canceled the approval of FII’s bio-islands once the Macondo well was partially sealed. One of the coolest things about the bio-islands is that while the microbial film gets to work cleaning up the water below, the upper surface acts as an instant hydroponic growing space. The islands can be moored in rivers, either anchored to the bottom or attached to the bank, and people have used them to plant water-loving annual and perennial forbs, sedges, rushes and even garden vegetables. Learn more at