Sights Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Birds, crab, fish, oysters, stingrays, dolphins and more.

After years of storms, these large live oaks still stand guard along the marsh edge in Ocean Springs.

Royal terns, Sterna maxima, enjoy the sun as they rest on a pier in Ocean Springs.

Royal terns nest with other birds on remote islands and prefer bare sand or shell beaches and dunes as nesting sites. Ocean Springs

Brown pelicans, Pelecanus occidentalis, once common on the Mississippi coast are now a threatened species. Ocean Springs

Cottony clouds dot the bright blue sky over Back Bay of Biloxi creating a perfect day to monitor fish species and oyster growth on the conservancy's restored oyster reef projects.

A sample from a Conservancy oyster reef restoration project in Bay St. Louis. New oysters and muscles grow on old oyster shells placed at the project site four years ago. This growth indicates this site is becoming a healthy reef.

The blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, is an important part of the food chain around the oyster reef. It is sought after by eels, drum, striped bass, some sharks and humans. Bay St. Louis

A 96.2 cm, Redfish caught from a Conservancy oyster restoration site in Back Bay of Biloxi. To sustain a fish this large, the oyster reef must be healthy which is good news for the restoration project.

American avocets, Recurvirostra americana, are common in the Pascagoula River Marsh in late summer and early fall. Dauphin Island, AL

A barnacle encrusted tree washed onshore and now sits as a work of art. Dauphine Island, AL

Reddish egrets, Egretta rufescens, frequent shallow, tidewater shores and salt marshes. This rusty colored egret feeds by running, hopping and arching its wings in a manner known as "canopy" feeding. Dauphin Island, AL

The bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, is a common site along the Mississippi coast and is the state's water mammal. Cat Island

The horned grebe, Podiceps auritus, is a common winter resident along the Mississippi Coast. They frequent bays and offshore islands, as well as open waters of Mississippi Sound. Cat Island

Interior wetlands like this one on Cat Island are important foraging habitat for shore and wading birds.

Sand ridge on Cat Island.

Cactus and the other plants found on the barrier islands are adapted to the sandy, beach like soil. Cat Island

The slash pine, Pinus elliottii, is the only type of pine tree that grows on the barrier islands. Cat Island

Sawtooth palmetto, Serenoa repens, grows 3-6 feet tall in clumps and is commonly found in sandy coastal lands. The fruit of this palmetto is an important food source for wildlife and is edible to humans. Cat Island

Great egret, Casmerodius albus, rookery at Cat Island. A common summer resident that builds large, stick-platform nests in bushes or on horizontal tree limbs.

This beautiful slender-necked heron with a white belly is know as the tricolored heron, Egretta tricolor. It breeds in the marshes on the offshore islands of Mississippi Sound. Cat Island

The small green heron, Butorides virescens, is common throughout Mississippi. It can be seen on ponds and small streams, as well as on large bodies of fresh and salt water. Cat Island

The osprey, Pandion haliaetus, feeds almost exclusively on live fish they locate by flying and hovering on long wings. Cat Island

Osprey build massive nests about 4 feet wide with sticks, driftwood, dried grasses and almost any kind of available trash. Cat Island

A brown pelican soars over a royal tern colony on a wingspan of more than 6 feet. Cat Island

Hermit crab in the surf at Petit Bois Island. Hermit crabs are an important part of the food chain on the coast. Shorebirds, nurse sharks, flounders and many other fish feed heavily them.

An Atlantic stingray, Dasyatis sabina, in the surf at Petit Bois Island. This stingray inhabits shallow coastal waters over sandy or silty bottoms.

Did you know Horseshoe crabs have blue blood? Their blood is copper based and used to test for bacteria in pharmaceutical equipment. Petit Bois Island

These dark spots are shallow sea grass beds which are important habitat for fish, sea turtles and marine mammals. The Conservancy is working with the National Park Service to raise awareness of the damage caused by boat props. Petit Bois Island

The prothonotary warbler, Protonotaria citrea, is commonly found near water where it nests in tree stump cavities. Ward Bayou, Pascagoula River

An elegant and unusual-looking flower, the spider lily's, Hymenocallis liriosme, species name means "fragrant lily". It has a stem 1-3 feet high with 2-3 blossoms at the top. Parish Lake Bayou, Pascagoula River


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