Dauphin Island is a segmented, microtidal barrier island, located in the northern Gulf of Mexico, approximately 8.0 km offshore from southwestern Alabama (United States). It was first mapped by Spanish explorers in 1519 but was not settled until 1699 after being claimed as a French possession. In 1707, the French officially named it Isle Dauphine. Maps of the island from this French colonial period reveal a different morphology than subsequent maps. The first American maps of Dauphin Island and Mobile Bay show two small islands (i.e., Pelican and Sand islands) offshore from the southeastern end of Dauphin Island. Passing storms have moved and reshaped both of these delta margin islands around the south-southwestern periphery of the submerged Mobile Bay ebb-tidal delta. Only in the past 25 years have the two islands combined to slowly move in a northwesterly arc toward Dauphin Island. In early 2008, continued longshore drift and strong tides have combined Pelican-Sand Island and Dauphin Island forming an island similar in morphology to that previously documented by French geographers in 1717.
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Vol. 2009 • No. 253