Yet another floating island success story!

27 August 2012

BioHaven floating islands have been installed in ponds at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, similar to those shown above in the Lincoln Zoo. In southeastern Virginia, these grant-funded islands have been planted and are being studied and evaluated at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia Institute of Marine Science at Gloucester Point and the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk.

Plants placed in the holes establish a hanging network of roots and rhizomes that help filter pollutants. The islands can function in any water depth, and are usually planted with native species – cardinal flower, irises, sedges and grasses – that can also be enjoyed in home gardens.

“Since we began the study in late April this year, we have noted other functions of the floating wetlands,” says William and Mary professor Randy Chambers.

Snakes, frogs and turtles used the wetland in addition to birds.

“Both great blue herons and little green herons have been attracted to and land on the floating treatment wetland to feed,” Chambers said. “We also observed a red-tailed hawk catching a water snake in the wetland; hummingbirds frequent the cardinal flowers.”

A stormwater pond known on campus as “Grim Dell” due to its dismal appearance, now attracts people who watch and take pictures of wildlife attracted to the floating island.

W&M student Katherine Thomas, in charge of monitoring water quality in the pond, applauds the project because no independent research has been done on these floating wetlands. She feels the entire country can benefit from what’s been tested locally.

“Since these stormwater ponds are all over the country, it would be ideal if we could use floating wetlands for habitats, aesthetics and water quality improvement,” she said. “Overall, we would just like to make something more useful out of these human-created stormwater ponds.”

Two islands totalling 736 square feet also were installed on the Elizabeth River. Within 24 hours, a mallard built a nest and laid an egg among the hibiscus, lizard’s tail, bulrush, cattail and sweet flag, according to project leaders.

An 80-square-foot island was installed at Kinder Morgan Elizabeth River Terminals, and a smaller one was put in a homeowner’s backyard pond in April.

For information on BioHavens in South Africa, please contact DH Environmental Consulting at

Beware of imitations!

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