Petit Bois Island (Mississippi)

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Dead trees in 'Little Woods' section of Petit Bois Island

Petit Bois Island is an island off the coast of the U.S. state of Mississippi, south of Pascagoula. It is part of Jackson County, Mississippi. Since 1971 it has been a part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, administered by the U.S. National Park Service.

Petit Bois Island is located at 30°11′55″N 88°27′04″W / 30.19861°N 88.45111°W / 30.19861; -88.45111. According to the United States Geological Survey, variant names are l'Isle de Petit Bois (French) and Petitbois Island.

Petit bois in French means "little woods". The island was so named by the early French explorers due to a small wooded section located on the eastern end of this mostly sand and scrub-covered island. Following the island's inundation during Hurricane Katrina, most of the trees comprising the little woods section have died.

Petit Bois Island viewed from Mississippi Sound
Location of Petit Bois Island, south of Pascagoula, Mississippi.


Shape changes[edit]

A French exploration map of 1732 showed an elongated barrier spit between Petit Bois Island and Dauphin Island[1] This connection was breached between 1740 and 1766, possibly as the result of the 1740 hurricane.[1]

Petit Bois originally extended about 7 miles east of the Alabama-Mississippi state line and was effectively located in both states. From 1933 to 1968, the eastern end of the island eroded (due to the effects of hurricanes and natural shoreline movement) until it was 1/2 mile west of the Mississippi state line. The island is approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) long and serves as a habitat for gulls, terns, plovers, alligators, and other wildlife.

Massacre Island[edit]

Early maps suggest that the Petit bois rather than current Dauphin Island may have been the location where a large pile of human skeletons was discovered in 1699 leading to the name Massacre Island.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]