Mississippi GEMS

Petit Bois Island Preserve

  1. Petit Bois IslandSite Information Point(s) of Contact: Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Coastal Preserves Program
  2. Geographic Information
    1. Narrative Description of the Site: This large barrier island is 6 miles long and is made up of subtidal estuarine habitat near shore, barrier island pond/lagoon complex with only a small area of slash pine forest remaining near the center of the island, sea grass beds and mollusk reefs off shore. The primary boundary of this 1,673-acre island 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. Both Snowy and Wilson's Plovers can be found in spring and summer on the sand flats at the east end of the island. Snowy Plovers can be found there all year. On the entire island, the Snowy Plover is mostly a resident of the white sands of the Gulf beaches, whereas the Wilson’s Plover is primarily a summer resident of the darker, muddier beaches of the sound side of the island. Quite often, Reddish Egrets can be found at beach ponds near the east tip. Least Terns occasionally nest near the west end of Petit Bois, and Mississippi's largest colony of Laughing Gulls (2000 pairs) was on Petit Bois Island. Salt marshes and freshwater ponds provide habitats for a great diversity of aquatic birds. Least Bitterns, Mottled Ducks, Clapper Rails, and Common Moorhens are common breeders. This unique location provides excellent feeding, resting, and wintering habitat for numerous types of migratory bird species, such as the Brown Pelican and cormorants. The area is also a rookery site for the Least Tern, the Sandwich Tern, the Black Skimmer, the Louisiana Heron, and the Osprey. The island is part of the Gulf Island National Seashore, owned and managed by the National Park Service.
    2. Location: Jackson County, N30 12' W088 28'
    3. Area of Influence: Barrier island
  3. Ecological/Cultural Characteristics
    1. Habitat type: A large barrier island, 6 miles long with the following ecological communities are expected or known to occur on the island: marine subtidal 1) Gulf of Mexico shallow sandy bottom (near shore); marine intertidal 1) sand bottom (near shore) 2) barrier island pond/lagoon complex 3) tidal pass 4) barrier island seagrass beds 5) embayment seagrass bed 6) mollusk reef; estuarine intertidal 1) oligohaline or mesohaline marsh 2) barrier island high marsh. Only a small area of slash pine forest remains near the center of the island.
    2. Rare/Endangered Species:
      1. Pelecanus occidentalis Brown Pelican
      2. Panion haliaetus Osprey
      3. Charadrius alexandrinus Snowy Plover
      4. Sterna nilotica Gull-Billed Tern
      5. S. maxima Royal Tern
      6. S. antillerum Least Tern
      7. Tyrannus dominicensis Gray Kingbird
      8. Myotis lucifugus Little Brown Bat
      9. Alligator mississippiensis American Alligator
      10. Paronychia erecta Beach Sand-Squares
      11. Caretta caretta Loggerhead Sea Turtle
    3. Breeding/Nursery Area:
      1. Least Tern Rookery
      2. Sandwich Tern-Black Skimmer Rookery
      3. Osprey Rookery
      4. Atlantic Loggerhead Turtle Nesting
    4. 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 and cormorants.
  4. 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: Designated as a Wilderness Area (Gulf Islands Wilderness Area) and a Mississippi Coastal Preserve
    3. Management Status: This preserve is managed by the Gulf Island National Seashore.
    4. Existing Monitoring Activities: The monitoring of this preserve is done by the Gulf Island National Seashore.
  5. 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.
  6. Comments and/or Additional Information on the Ship Island Preserve:
    Gulf Islands National Seashore
    3500 Park Road
    Ocean Springs MS 39564

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