An amazing abundance of wildlife thrives along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi. In estuaries, where salt water and fresh water mingle, more than 200 bird species (including migratory waterfowl) nest, rest and feed.
These estuaries are among the most productive in the world, producing 40 percent of the annual commercial fish yield in the United States. They also support an important sport-fishing industry, and are home to many animal and plant species during one or more stages of their lives. Important commercial species such as spotted sea trout, shrimp and blue crabs live here, as do oysters. The oysters help improve water quality by removing excess nutrients traveling downstream from rivers, and provide protection against coastal erosion and storm surges.
The coastal habitat is critical to rare and endangered animals including sea turtles, brown pelicans, Mississippi sandhill cranes, manatees and Gulf sturgeons, as well as majestic species like humpback and finback whales living further offshore.
The Conservancy utilizes a variety of techniques to improve and restore Gulf Coast areas. Ensuring healthy fisheries, clean water and natural buffers that minimize the effects of storms requires long-term commitments. The Conservancy remains active at the local, state, national and even global level to ensure policies and regulations help protect Mississippi's natural heritage and continues to provide invaluable services for people and wildlife.
Helping protect more than 16,000 acres of ecologically sensitive marshes, barrier islands and coastal uplands through the Coastal Preserve System includes partnering with the Mississippi Secretary of State's office and the Department of Marine Resources.
Additional efforts include restoring oyster reefs, which creates habitat for fish and other aquatic species and helps buffer the coast from erosion and storm surges. Scientists are also working to restore and enhance the management of seagrass beds along the coast by mapping damaged sites, improving signage to indicate 'safe to travel' routes for boaters, educating boaters and anglers on the importance of healthy seagrass beds, and monitoring progress with aerial photography.