Wave Mitigation, Shoreline Protection & Coastal Restoration

Floating wetlands, both natural and our BioHaven Floating Islands, as wave mitigators function in the upper part of the water depth where much of a body of water’s wave energy is concentrated. The structures effectively reduce wave height and energy in the lee of the structure by reflecting wave energy and dissipating kinetic wave energy of incoming waves. Energy losses result from breaking waves on the face of the structure and turbulent flow resulting from the interaction of the wave and the structure. BioHavens don’t reflect the waves, but rather, dissipate the energy.

showing wave mitigation shoreline protection effects of biohaven floating islands as waves on one side and glass smooth water on the other

With large areas to restore and protect, BioHavens are practical and cost-effective. Our High-Energy BioHaven (HEB-W, HEW-N), partner-manufactured BioHaven® Floating Breakwaters, and related EcoShield™ products provide a safe and durable solution with no adverse impacts.

A floating breakwater can look natural and beautiful and be a truly GREEN SOLUTION to the problem. A competitor’s ugly breakwater is made of concrete and filled with polystyrene. Under ASTM standards, polystyrene is regarded as not biodegradable. It is accumulating as a form of litter in the outside environment, particularly along shores and waterways, especially in its foam form, and in the Pacific Ocean. Also, Polystyrene is not commonly or easily recycled. It may be less expensive, but it winds up as small pieces of non-biodegradable litter along coastlines and in the bellies of dead wildlife.

There is a reason concrete water tanks are lined with protective armor. Our islands are protected with that same armor with which municipal water tanks are lined. Safe and superior coating around 100% recycled material makes for a long-lasting and safer environmental alternative.

The mooring systems for BioHaven floating breakwaters are strong and effective. Our floating islands introduce proven wave attenuation technology, and floating breakwater design can be customized to fit your needs and create a protective shield against waves.

Wave mitigation for varied purposes

Wave Mitigation | Asset Protection | Wind Protection | Anchoring

Coastal protection efforts are critical to the survival of many coastal communities, and breakwaters may be used for that purpose.

In recreational applications, such as water bodies that host water sports, wave dampening is desirable, and this is an application for which BioHaven Floating Islands have been used successfully many times.

For the emerging floating solar and FPV markets, BioHaven Floating Islands can act both as perimeter protection to floating solar arrays and also as impact-mitigating platforms.

We address obstacles to floating solar

Whether set on an inland lake, in coastal waters, or out at sea, some of the biggest challenges faced by floating solar have to do with the ability of the floating structure to withstand wind and waves and to remain in place. The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) is studying the impact of wind and waves on the performance of floating solar systems. Our floating island structure could be an effective way to protect floating solar from the perimeter of the system.

A BioHaven Floating Island attenuates waves such as chop waves / wind chop. Its floating structure eliminates concerns about sinking and rises and falls with the tide. The engineered anchor design has been tested for years. It has been manufactured to hold anchor through hurricane-force winds and storm surges, and native marsh plantings provide habitat as well as water quality benefits and natural beauty.

Floating Island products are backed by 12 years of independent research.

  • Buoyancy. Today we have single-module, seamless, floating islands of about 95 square feet that can support 2,500 pounds of negative buoyancy. These can be attached together to form custom-size platforms.
  • Stability. A saturated BioHaven will weigh twenty times as much as a similar footprint of pontoon and will accumulate mass as it ages. This allows a well-anchored BioHaven platform to maintain a stationary position in the face of hurricane-force winds. Massive waves hit them, and their energy is sparged and dispersed within the water-damping matrix. Wind chop is attenuated.
  • Durability. 60+ years. Advances in construction methods include a tough coating of “armor” that protects the outer surfaces from UV and environmental damage. This is the same material that protects the insides of municipal water inventory tanks.
  • Strength. These islands, framed together as massive archipelagos, can support seven or eight times their square footage of solar panels. The largest existing BioHaven in North America is a 40,000 square foot island that supports 900 tons of gravel.
  • Resilience. BioHaven Floating Islands have withstood hurricane-force winds in the Gulf of Mexico, 48-inch snow dumps in the ocean off the coast of Alaska, a tornado in Montana, a typhoon in Singapore, and a two-day windstorm in Oregon.

All of these qualities put BioHaven Floating Island products at the top of the list of solutions to problems requiring wave mitigation.

Coastal Restoration

Louisiana alone loses a football field of land every hour.

Where rising sea levels, storm surge, human activity, or other element has removed the thriving, living bounty from the coastlines, BioHaven Floating Islands can be used to replace what has been lost as well as mitigate future losses.

Land Reclamation & Erosion Protection

  • buffer waves/wave mitigation
  • increase sedimention
  • grow new vegetation
  • protect levee base
  • protect marshland
  • provide buffer between lake and road
  • protect marsh from shearing waves
  • erosion protection

This wave attenuation case study from a leader in the wave attenuation product industry is very interesting because they are protecting an island from being further eroded. They have put their plastic barriers encircling the ongoing pumping, dredging, and planting that is going on to rebuild the island.
Will they always need the plastic barriers encircling the island even once they are finished? Replacing them every 7 years (as suggested by other studies) will add plastic to the earth’s waste and may ultimately end up costing the same or more as if they just used BFI in the first place.

What’s more, they might have used BioHaven islands to accomplish all of these things at once!

BioHaven® floating islands (floating treatment wetlands or FTWs) have been proven to dampen wave energy in both deep water and shoreline settings. They represent a powerful new tool to protect levees, valuable shorelines or other erosion-sensitive areas.

  • Act as a protective barrier around floating solar FPV assets
  • Provide stable support under floating photovoltaic and solar panels
  • Absorb wind and wave impact, minimize wave energy
  • Protect shorelines, restore wetlands and create new habitat
  • Increase water clarity by absorbing particles in the water
  • Contribute to water quality by recovering and recycling nutrients
  • Delineate a safe recreational area for water-skiers and wakeboarders
  • Are an affordable and practical “green infrastructure” solution
  • Features
    • Mimics natural processes of coastal ecosystems and creates new marsh
    • Protects shorelines affected by erosion from wave action and boating activity
    • Attenuates waves such as chop waves / wind chop
    • Manufactured to hold anchor through hurricane-force winds and storm surges
    • Floating structure eliminates concerns about sinking and rises and falls with the tide
    • Shoreline Protection and Coastal Restoration
    • Wave attenuation properties prevent bank erosion and sedimentation
    • Act as sediment buffer to re-establish coastal vegetation
    • Endorsed by The Water Institute of the Gulf

  • The BioHaven Solution

    Description of Technology

    Besides offering a biological treatment surface and superior platform for growing plants, the BioHaven matrix acts as a wave attenuating device. Wave force is not merely displaced, only to transfer its energy to another location: it is dissipated. The permeability of the matrix attenuates lateral waves while the rise and fall of the islands’ edge ensures no vertical instability.

    Specific wave attenuation laboratory testing performed by Alden Labs of the matrix used to manufacture the BioHaven® Floating Breakwaters indicate that wave heights may be reduced by 80% +/-4% for small amplitude waves (such as the 90% confidence waves anticipated at the project sites). Since BFBs include live plants (in effect, becoming a floating island), roots that penetrate the BFB and that are suspended in the water column will increase the effectiveness of the BFB over time. /-4%


    • High-Energy BioHavens are lightweight, easy to deploy and require virtually no maintenance
    • They can be deployed close to shore or anchored safely in the middle of a waterbody
    • The flexible island material has no hard edges and can easily be marked with reflector posts or discs to signal their presence to water users

  • Case Studies and Research

BioHaven technology is successfully used to protect and restore sensitive coastlines

Protection and restoration of sensitive coastal areas is a key use of BioHaven systems. The proven wave-dampening qualities of the BioHaven Matrix allows it to function as a breakwater, absorbing energy and protecting the shoreline from further damage. Its ability to act as a sediment trap enables marsh grasses to be re-established and thrive in areas where they have disappeared. The projects covered by this case study have been hugely successful, and have garnered a Gulf Guardian Award for Shell Oil, a key proponent of this technology.

a boat towing a row of rectangular floating islands into place from a dock

aerial view of a lake with an x pattern of rectangular floating islands in the center

the wandering shoreline of a lake lined with floating islands

workers assemble floating islands joining them together to build wave mitigator

photo showing floating island reestablished marsh grasses8 months of growth

BioHaven® Living Shorelines BioHaven® Floating Breakwaters

Case Study Project Location: Louisiana, USA

BioHaven® floating island technology is an improved approach for protecting shorelines from erosion and restoring natural vegetation. This technology is variously known as BioHaven Living Shorelines and BioHaven Floating Breakwaters. The BioHaven matrix is a robust and flexible support structure for plants that has exceptional wave-dampening qualities: instead of simply redirecting possibly-destructive energy, waves are safely absorbed. The matrix has a very high tensile strength capable of withstanding 90-mph winds; it is designed to rise and fall with the tide, and will rebound if inundated during a storm event. BioHavens have been installed in coastal areas, ponds and lakes.

Living shorelines are intended to:

  • Prevent erosion and/or reclaim land frontage,
  • Provide wildlife and spawning habitat,
  • Protect property,
  • Encourage recreation,
  • Improve water quality,
  • Enhance natural beauty and
  • Reduce restoration costs.

Installing BioHaven living shorelines requires relatively little heavy equipment and less labor than conventional alternatives such as bulkheads and riprap. The lightweight, modular system can be assembled and installed with minimal disruption to the environment it is designed to protect.

Martin Ecosystems of Baton Rouge, a licensee of Floating Island International using the BioHaven technology, has developed expertise in designing, installing and maintaining living shorelines. Since 2009, Martin Ecosystems has installed living shorelines at the three locations in Louisiana described in detail below.

Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge At the nation’s largest urban national wildlife refuge, preserving marsh habitat is critical. Over time, low-to-moderate wave energies have eroded much of the shoreline. The cost-effective solution chosen in August 2009 was to install 856 linear feet of BioHavens to buffer waves, increase sedimentation and grow new vegetation. Partners were the City of New Orleans, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bayou Land Resource Conservation & Development Council (a division of NRCS).

Catfish Lake At Catfish Lake, part of the South Lafourche Levee District near Galiano, LA, the levee base was eroding from daily wave action. In March 2009, 1000 linear feet of BioHavens were installed to buffer the waves, protect the levee base and provide needed vegetation. Selected plants were marsh hay, seashore paspalum and vermillion smooth cord. Both the BioHaven matrix and the vegetation serve as buffers between the waves and levee. In only one year, the vegetation has spread and is providing 2-3 feet of vegetative buffer between the waves and levee base. Sections of the project where matrix was installed without plants have shown signs of erosion, indicating that plants are necessary for this application.

Isle de Jean Charles Significant marsh erosion has been noted on this island on a saltwater lake near Pointe Au Chene, Louisiana. To protect the small slivers of remaining marsh from erosion, provide a buffer between the open lake and a road, provide a suitable environment to trap sediment and allow vegetation to spread, 1560 linear feet of BioHavens were installed in September 2011 and planted with smooth cord and seashore paspalum.

Results to date show: • BioHavens are protecting the remaining marsh from shearing waves. • Vegetation is noticeably greener than the nearby natural marsh. • New shoots and roots are protruding from the BioHavens.

Conclusions Three floating treatment wetland systems have been successfully deployed at brackish water and saltwater environments in Louisiana. Living shorelines have also been installed in ponds and lakes in Shanghai, China and Singapore. Results include erosion protection, wave mitigation and enhanced vegetation. This cost-effective option was installed with no heavy equipment and little-to-no damage to habitat or the shorelines’ natural appearance.

BioHaven Wave Mitigation | Shoreline Protection | Coastal Restoration Products

Other Applications