Dauphin Island (including the West End)
The Mobile mainland coast, stretching from Cedar Point
to the Alabama-Mississippi line supports the largest contiguous salt
marsh habitat in the state of Alabama.
Shown Here: The area
just north of Dauphin Island
(click photo to enlarge)
For this biologically important ecosystem to thrive and maintain itself,
it must be sheltered from the powerful waves of the open Gulf of Mexico.
Dauphin Island has historically provided that protection.
The Katrina Cut and the continuing deterioration of the islandís West
End has increased the exposure of this valuable marsh habitat, and the
wildlife that resides and feeds there, to higher energy waves and
resulting shoreline erosion.
The loss of the protection from a weakened and eroding Dauphin Island will be evident on the salt marshes that fringe the
mainland coast. A diminished barrier island will expose the marshes to
increased wave action and the resulting effects of shoreline erosion. A
substantial loss in the acreage of salt marshes would contribute to a
decline in the productivity of the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay.
These marshes are a vital part of the nursery grounds,
providing the base of the food web upon which essentially all of the
estuarine species of the Gulf of Mexico depend. The destruction of the
coastal marshes will occur over time, gradually affecting the fishery
resources. Erosion on the mainland marshes north of Dauphin Island has
been occurring for some time, with Alabamaís State
Lands Division investing in projects to mitigate for the losses of this
important habitat. Further weakening of Dauphin Island should be
expected to accelerate the rate of erosion.
Restoring the island and filling in the Katrina Cut will help to
mitigate damage to the coastal marsh.
UPDATE ON KATRINA CUT
After the BP Oil Spill of April 2010, the Katrina Cut was closed with
rocks and other material by the Army Corps of Engineers, in an effort to
protect the mainland coast and the salt marshes in the Mississippi Sound from oil
contamination. An added benefit of this project was to help combat
over-salination in the Sound, which had been present since the island
was breached in that location by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
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