Mississippi GEMS

Ship Island Preserve

  1. Ship IslandSite Information Point(s) of Contact: Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Coastal Preserves Program
  2. Geographic Information
    1. Site Name: Gulf Coast Refuge Complex - Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR
    2. Narrative Description of the Site: The primary boundary of this 2,051-acre preserve is one mile North and South of the island and is bounded on the East and West by the Alabama state line the the Gulfport Mississippi shipping channel. The boundary also includes the flats around and between the islands. This barrier island is currently in 3 parts; connected by narrow tidal sandbars. The island is 8 miles in length and the terrain is low and sandy except at the east end. Because of the Ship Island Ferryboat that runs twice a day during the summer months, locals and tourists use West Ship Island for recreation. There are restroom facilities, a snack bar, a ranger station, and a Civil War fort (Fort Massachusetts) located on the island. East Ship Island, however, is not heavily used by tourists.. This unique location provides excellent feeding, resting, and wintering habitat for numerous types of migratory bird species, such as the Brown Pelican, White Pelican, and Cormorants. This area is also known to be rookery for the Black Skimmer. The island is part of the Gulf Island National Seashore owned and managed by the National Park Service.
    3. Date Site Established: March, 1998
    4. Location: Harrison County, N30 12'33" W088 57'56"
    5. Area of Influence: Barrier island
  3. Ecological/Cultural Characteristics
    1. Rare/Endangered Species:
      1. Pelecanus erythrorhynchos American White Pelican
      2. P. occidentalis Brown Pelican
      3. Panion haliaetus Osprey
      4. Circus cyaneus Northern Harrier
      5. Falco sparverius American Kestrel
      6. Charadrius alexandrinus Snowy Plover
      7. C. melodus Piping Plover
      8. S. maxima Royal Tern
      9. S. antillerum Least Tern
      10. Alligator mississippiensis American Alligator
      11. Nerodia clarkii clarkii Gulf Salt Marsh Snake
      12. Trichechus manatus Manatee
      13. Paronychia erecta Gulf Rockrose
      14. Helianthemum arenicola Gulf Rockrose
      15. Ipomoea pes-caprae Railroad Vine
      16. Quercus myrtifolia Myrtle-Leaf Oak
      17. Avicennia nitida Black Mangrove
      18. Paspalum monostachyum Gulfdune Paspalum
      19. Caretta caretta Loggerhead Sea Turtle
    2. Breeding/Nursery Area:
      1. Black Skimmer Rookery
      2. Atlantic Loggerhead Turtle Nesting
    3. Migratory Species: This unique location provides excellent feeding, resting, and wintering habitat for numerous types of neotropical migrants and wintering waterfowl species, such as the Brown Pelican, White Pelican, and Cormorants.
    4. Uniqueness of Natural Community
      1. Archaeological Features: Civil War Fort (Fort Massachusetts)
  4. Current and Potential Use of Site
    1. Recreational Use: During the summer months, locals and tourists use West Ship Island for recreation (swimming, site seeing, and fishing). There are restroom facilities, a snack bar, and a ranger station.
  5. Management Status
    1. Land Ownership: The island is part of the Gulf Island National Seashore owned and managed by the National Park Service.
    2. Existing Designations: Mississippi Coastal Preserve
    3. Management Status: This preserve is managed by the Gulf Island National Seashore.
    4. Existing Monitoring Activities: This preserve is monitored by the Gulf Island National Seashore.
  6. Sources of Information: Boyd, J. L., et. al., 1995. An inventory of pond fauna of the Gulf Islands National Seashore with parasitological and trophic observations. Unpublished Report to the National Park Service.
  7. Comments and/or Additional Information on the Ship Island Preserve:
    Superintendent
    Gulf Islands National Seashore
    3500 Park Road
    Ocean Springs, MS 39564

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