Best Time to Visit This Site:


Most Sought Species at This Site:

Least Bittern, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Clapper Rail, Black-Necked Stilt,  American Oystercatcher, Wilson’s Plover, Red Knot, Least Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer, Nelson’s Sparrow,

Seaside Sparrow

The Ship Islands were separated by Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and the gap widened by Hurricane Camille in 1969. Plans are underway to reunite them. Both are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. All rules and regulations regarding the use of

National Park Service sites can be found on the NPS website. West Ship Island is the easiest of the barrier islands to access, at least from mid-March to mid-October, when Ship Island Excursions  runs a passenger ferry service from the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. This is a very popular excursion and the beaches and walks in the vicinity of the pier are always crowded. However, this doesn’t seem to bother weary migrants. The protective turf sheathing on the roof of historic Fort Massachusetts, originally placed there to absorb the impact of cannonballs, is often lively with warblers during a fallout. It should be noted, though, that the restrictions necessary to protect the fragile ecosystem of the island can limit access to many places where migrants are most likely to congregate. The best shorebirding is on the ends of the island. The west end, a mile distant from the landing, usually has a variety of resting terns and some shorebirds. The two mile distant east end is the best for shorebirds. It is about the last easily accessible place in Mississippi where one can expect, rather than merely hope, to see Red Knot.  East Ship Island, probably due to its isolation, is particularly noted for its abundance and variety of wintering shorebirds. Click here for complete information including maps, trails, lagoons, and passes.


All of the barrier islands can only be reached by boat. Click on the boat icon to the right for more information on Ship Island Excursions. If you are using a personal boat, the GPS way-point provided is for an area that is open to the public and easy to access.

GPS:  30.21872 -88.93718

East Ship Only

Website -Mozart Mark Dedeaux

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Updated: 9/17/2013