Located on about 135,000 acres, Gulf Islands National Seashore includes an expansive array of barrier islands, submerged lands, and mainland shore that extends from Mississippi to Florida. Birders, hikers, and historians will find much of interest here. In Mississippi the seashore is comprised of five separate areas: East and West Ship Island, Horn Island, Petit Bois Island, and Davis Bayou Area on the mainland. In Florida there are six areas: Perdido Key, Fort Barrancas and Advanced Redoubt, Naval Live Oaks, Fort Pickens, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Areas.
Characterized by brackish estuaries, salty bays, and underwater sea-grass beds, Gulf Coast waters are important feeding and nursery grounds for a wide assortment of marine life. Large flocks of wintering waterfowl, gulls, wading birds, and other seabirds can also be seen here, including many pelagic species (birds that stay well offshore). Gulf Islands National Seashore is an excellent place to study and explore Gulf marine habitats.
Within the national seashore, Fort Pickens preserves American Civil War history, and Fort Barrancas preserves Florida’s Spanish influence. More than 280 bird species, including shorebirds and migrating warblers, visit here, and Johnson Beach offers miles of unspoiled beaches lined with salt-tolerant plants along sparkling green Gulf waters. The four islands off Mississippi’s coast -- Petit Bois, Horn, and East and West Ship -- are quite remote and accessible only by boat (there are daily runs to West Ship Island from Biloxi and Gulfport).
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