My Favorite Floating Island

This is a tough question – what is my favorite floating island! Is it one of our own BioHaven floating islands, that replicates naturally-occurring peat-based floating islands?  Or is it a naturally-occurring peat-based floating island, created by nature, such as the thirty-acre floating island we know and love on Chippewa Flowage, in northern Wisconsin? That particular floating island has been a serious gift to us.  It has taught us much about nature’s model for floating treatment wetlands.  We’ve also enjoyed some crazy fishing alongside it.  One one visit, a friend and I caught 34 largemouth bass from a canoe, mostly from the perimeter of the island.  Yes, that’s right, largemouth bass in northern Wisconsin, with a couple in the four-pound range.

There’s a great BioHaven floating island on Lake Rotorua, in the North Island of New Zealand.  Twelve Maori iwi, and other Bay of Plenty stakeholders, came together to make this 50,000 square-foot floating island landmark happen.  A true testament to community!

Then there’s a beautiful BioHaven floating island archipelago in Singapore.  I still remember the incredible fish, and massive monitor lizards, ten feet long, when I was there for our first Singapore launch!

A less glamorous floating island but one dear to my heart is our dog island here at Shepherd.  This floating island is designed as a “climb aboard”, so our yellow labs can work their upper bodies as part of the regular play routine labs insist on!

Then there are our floating stream beds. The one I visit most is a big one adjacent to our underwater viewing tank.  This is the one where we discovered native freshwater sponge colonizing the underside of the island! These living creatures help us achieve splendid water clarity in Fish Fry Lake, that is also incredibly productive of fish.  These two characteristics don’t often come together except where water is deliberately stewarded back towards health.

Earlier this year a 150,000 square foot floating breakwater was launched in the gulf, where hurricanes happen, a real testament to BioHaven resilience!  It’s certainly on my short list as a favorite!

Then there’s the 520, right here on what we call House Pond.  It was launched in 2004, and has completely naturalized.  It’s a marker for us.  It says that we are replicating nature’s model.  Biomimicry!  And its also answering the question of how long BioHavens last?  How long will they continue to do their work of cycling nutrients into appropriate biota?  The 520 is answering these critical questions, so it’s on my short list too!

But my favorite?  I think I need to go with the floating streambed.  It is rigidified on top with a boardwalk, so we can work and play on it.  Although there are no plants on it, the freshwater sponge fill that niche.  And I’ve seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of fish caught from that floating island!  Many kids have caught their first fish from it!  Bottom line, that floating island brings it all together.  It depicts a possible future.  The Fish Fry Lake model can happen across the world.

I think this is my favorite island, mainly because it energizes me.  Fills me with hope.  And it’s close, personal, just a few minutes by foot from where I’m sitting.

an aerial view of a floating island designed to look like the word Rotorua

The largest BioHaven to date sits in Lake Rotorua, where it serves as a visible landmark while treating agricultural runoff.

large bluegill fish underwater, swimming down from a large rock

Fish, sponge and water clarity are all come together by the BioHaven StreamBed in Fish Fry Lake