Mississippi Gulf Islands National Seashore: Exploring West Ship Island's Fort Massachusetts
Fort Massachusetts is located on West Ship Island, 12 miles off the Mississippi Gulf Coast; it is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Once known only as Ship Island, Hurricane Camille in 1969 cut the island in half creating East and West Ship Islands. The US Army Corps of Engineers began reconnecting the islands in 2018, so one day it will be one island again.
The barrier islands of the Gulf Islands National Seashore create a buffer between the mainland and the Gulf of Mexico. It is a critical habitat for shorebirds and sea turtles making West Ship Island an excellent location for birding and nature photography. The water around the island is typically crystal clear with visibility as much as 12 to 14 feet deep so the island is also a great destination for swimming and fishing. With something for everyone, it makes for a fun family day trip while also sneaking in a little history at the old fort.
Located just outside of Lorman, Mississippi and a short distance off the Natchez Trace Parkway is the ghost town of Rodney, Mississippi. Not much is left of this early nineteenth-century river settlement that is richly steeped in early American history. It is now all but forgotten and only visited by the most adventuresome travelers.
I first fell in love with an old black and white photograph of the Rodney Baptist Church many years ago placing Rodney Ghost Town high on my bucket list of places to photograph in Mississippi. Let me just say, it didn't disappoint!
Least Terns Breeding on the Mississippi Gulf Coast: The Largest US Breeding Area
On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, there are two one-mile stretches of beach that make up the largest nesting colony of Least Tern in the United States. This Important Birding Area right along the Gulf of Mexico contains sections of five beaches: Biloxi Beach, Gulfport East, Gulfport West, Long Beach, and Pass Christian; putting the Least Tern within the most populated area for beach-goers along the Mississippi coastline. Situations such as this make biologists suspect that humans and the family pet are the number one reason the Least Tern population is in decline.
I was not aware of this Important Breeding Area until I visited Biloxi several months ago to photograph the birds wintering in the area. Nesting Least Terns quickly became a priority on my birding bucket list.
I am the 8th photographer in 4 generations of my family. Back in 2006, my husband accepted a job traveling, and I jumped at the chance to go with him.
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