Dauphin Island, Alabama Background essay

DauphinIsland, Alabama


DauphinIsland is a barricade land mass located off the coast of the state ofAlabama. The island got its name from Dauphin, who was a greatgrandson and successor of Louis XIV. The Gulf of Mexico occurs on thesouth of the island while the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay are onits northern side. The island is the home to a wide variety of plantsand animals. Additionally,the island is the home to a marine science laboratory, the estuarium,a salt marsh habitat and several private dwellings. Recreationalfishing and other water sports are popular activities in the watersaround the island. The island’s widevariety of migratory birds makes it a significant tourist attractionsite (DauphinIsland Foundation, par 3). The current paper aims to discuss theorganism and environmental conditions of the island’s estuarium andsalt marsh habitat. The paper will also discuss the purpose ofbarrier islands and where they occur in the U.S. Finally, the paperwill explain the history of the island and hurricanes that haveaffected it.

Estuaryhabitat of Alabama, dauphin island- organisms found and environmentalconditions

Anestuary is an enclosed coast water body, which has an open link withthe ocean, through which fresh water from inland and saltwater fromthe sea mixes.According to (MobileBay National Estuary Program, par 2), estuaries represent some of themost vulnerable and most significant habitats on earth. The estuaryhabitat of Alabama acts as a home to many species of birds, mainlythe migratory birds such as the GreatWhite Egretand the commontern.It is also a sanctuary for many species of fish and other animalsthat live in water such as crocodiles, shellfish, oysters, mud crabs,to name but a few. Alabama estuary is known to be a habitat tothousands of shelled creatures such as clams, mussels, snails andamphipods which live on the mudflats surviving on decaying organicmatter from dead plants such as marsh grasses. Apart from theanimals, the estuary is also an important habitat for many plantssuch as eelgrass, marsh grasses, sea grass and dwelling algae. Theplants serve as an important habitat and food for many of theinvertebrates found on the island.

Accordingto Dauphin Island Park and Beach information, the Alabama Dauphineisland estuary habitat is environmentally and economically importantbecause of its exceptional biological diversity and productivity. Asa result, the estuary is under intense monitoring to ensue it isprotected from human impacts. Reports and various studies carried outin relation to Alabama estuary show that it is in good environmentalstate due to strict regulations and monitoring. However, the MobileBay National Estuary Program, which assessed Alabamians’ attitudestowards the environmental condition of the estuary points that thereis need for balance between environmental protection and economicgrowth. Activities such as recreational fishing and waste disposal inthe waters of the estuary are negatively affecting its environmentalcondition.

Saltmarsh habitat-organisms found and environmental conditions

TheAlabama salt marsh

Asalt marsh is a swampy area occurring near estuaries and sounds. TheAlabama salt marsh habitat is rich in marine life. It is argued thata salt marsh has a self-sustaining cycle. The marsh plants die anddecay and act as a steady source of food for various animal speciesliving in the habitat. On the other hand, when the animals die anddecompose, they act as a source of nutrient for the plant species.The Alabama salt marsh habitat is the home to many species of plantsand animals (DauphinIsland Foundation, 2). The marsh hosts various species of birds suchas red-winged black bid, egrets, and herons among others. Otheranimals found in this habitat include blue crab, white shrimp andspot tail bass. Also, large predators like creeks hunting for fishare found in the habitat. Various species of fish and other reptilesreside in the salt marsh habitat. The salt marsh is also a home formany species of grass. Other plants that survive in salty waterconditions such as glasswortsand the cordgrassare found in the habitat. However, the habitat has very few or notrees and shrubs.

TheAlabama salt marsh habitat is recognized for its ability to filterout toxins and other chemicals from the incoming water. Therefore,the habitat is well protect and hence in good environmental condition(Dauphin Island Park and Beach, par4). However, the habitat is facingsignificant problems such as erosion from flooding and rise in sealevel caused by global warming all of which are affecting itsenvironmental status. It is also argued that some tourists are notrespecting the environment near the marsh by irresponsibly dumpingwaste which is leading to pollution. Therefore, there is need forstricter rule on waste damping and monitoring of tourists’activities to safeguard the environmental condition of this valuablenatural resource (Dauphin Island Foundation, 8).

3.Barrier islands-purpose, movement, where they are found in UnitedStates

Abarrier island is a long, thin piece of land covered in dust and inparallel orientation to the mainland shore. The purpose of thebarrier island is to protect the coast from the powerful storm wavesthat can cause devastating destructions. Barrier islands are vibrantnatural features since they keep moving and migrating as a result ofthe varying sea levels. In the United States, barrier islands aremainly found on the gentle, sandy slopes on the seashores.Consequently, many of the barrier islands occur along the Gulf Coastsuch as the Dauphin Island. Other barrier islands are found in theAtlantic coast. Apart from the Dauphin Islands other barriers in theU.S. include: Padre Island which is the longest barrier in the world,Cape Hatteras and Assateague among others.

Oncebarrier islands are formed, they constantly keep moving as a resultof winds and waves. Scientists argue that the rising sea levels as aresult of global warming are a major cause of barrier movement.Additionally, predominant winds originating from the northeast forcethe islands to move. During storms, the strong waves and wind pushlarge quantities of sand towards the land. Consequently, sand dunesend up intruding the marine forests destroying and concealing treeson the western sides of the islands. The process continues and atsome point tree stumps can be seen on the shoreline. Though theprocess of barrier movement can take thousands of years, any largestorm can cause incredible changes to the island in a very shorttime, even few hours.

4.History of dauphin island beginning with earliest known settlers, andfollow chronological order of inhabitants

TheIsland has been inhabited from the MississippianPeriod. This is supported by the large shell mound found on theisland and can be traced way back to between 1100 and 1550 AD. Thismound comprising of charcoal and potsherds was created by the NativeAmericans who used to dump refuse obtained from meals mainly fish andshellfish.


Themost notable modern history regarding the Island started was startedby Pierre Le Moyne Sieur, an explorer from France who landed 1n 1699in the Island (Maloney,1).The name Massacre Isle as it was originally referred, was obtainedafter the explorer discovered a pile of bones on the shore of theIsland.In 1766, the British colonized the Island, only to beseized by the Spanish 14 years later at the time when the Britishwere fully engaged with the Revolutionary War. In 1813, the Americanforces captured and occupied the Island, with the aim of deterringthe British from using the Island as a tool of war between 1812and 1814. Until1830s, Creek tribes and Choctaw tribes had occupied the Islandoccupied the Island until they were forced to migrate Westwards(Dauphin Island, 1). It is worth noting that Spanish explorershelped to map the Island, thus making it to be referred as Isla deSan Feliz. Asper the 2010 century results, it was established that the Island had1238 occupants. Out of this number, 97.3% were whites, 1.0% werethose having more than two races, 1.0% were native Americans, 0.4%African Americans, 0.7% Latinos or Hispanics and the rest thosehaving Asian Origins. Further, the statistics indicates that, as at2010, the median household income was estimated to be $56,731and $26,771 as the per capita income. Out of the occupants of theIsland, 25.2% work either as scientists, administrators or in wastemanagement services. Those in healthcare, education sector andsocial assistance service comprise of 12.8% of the entire population(Maloney,1).State Highway 193 is used by the residents to access the island, aswell as through the use of other transportation services such asferries and Dauphin Island Airport.

5.History of hurricanes that affected Dauphin Island

Itis worth noting that, there have been notable hurricanes which haveaffected Dauphin Island since the 20thcentury. Hurricane Frederic which occurred on 12thSeptember 1979 where the bridge to the mainland was destroyed onlyafter operating for only 24 years. Hurricane Elena occurred in 1985and brought gusts of winds blowing over 210km/hr (130mph) to theisland. Hurricane Danny and Hurricane Georges occurred in 1997 and1998, where the later destroyed over 41 houses located on the island.The other hurricane which has rocked the island was Hurricane Ivanwhich occurred in 2004, where above a quarter of the entire Islandwas submerged in two feet of water. In the following year (2005),Hurricane Katrina, documented as one of the most disastroushurricanes damaged parts of the Island, destroying homes andproperties (Sealls,1).


Fromthe above information, it is clear that, DauphinIsland is one of the most resourceful islands in the US. With itsrich heritage both in regard to biodiversity, there is the urgentneed for the residents to do more in order to ensure thesustainability of the Island. Further, there is the need to placecautious measures to prevent further damage of properties and loss oflife as a result of incidences such as the hurricanes.


DauphinIsland Foundation: Ahistory of Dauphin Island under five flags 1699-1989. Retrieved from: http://www.difoundation.org/history.htm

DauphinIsland Park and Beach. Retrievedfrom: Dauphinisland.org.

Maloney,Christopher. DauphinIsland. The Encyclopedia of Alabama, 2016.

MobileBay National Estuary Program. CoastalAlabama Community Attitudes.What Alabamians value about the environment and&nbspwhat can bedone to protect it,2011. Retrieved from:Assessmenthttp://www.mobilebaynep.com/coastal_alabama_community_attitudes_assesment/

Sealls,Alan. Mobile’sHurricane History Has Been Active. Available athttp://wkrg.com/2015/06/03/mobiles-hurricane-history-has-been-active/