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COE MsCIP Barrier Islands

Mississippi Coastal Improvement Program (MsCIP) Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico Benthic Macroinfauna Community Assessment

Barry A. Vittor & Associates, Inc. has carried out three seasonal biological surveys to characterize macroinfauna assemblages in and around potential sand borrow areas, sand placement areas, and littoral zone areas associated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP) barrier island restoration project. This MsCIP project will restore barrier islands to conditions found in earlier portions of the 20th Century. The barrier islands have been variously impacted by past hurricanes. One portion of the project is to fill the breach in Ship Island created by Hurricane Camille - an anticipated result of filling this breach will be to restore more natural salinities in Mississippi Sound.

Vittor & Associates collected over 600 macroinfaunal samples for each of three seasonal field surveys. The work will be used for the baseline characterization of biological resources at potential offshore sand borrow areas, sand placement areas (Ship Island, Horn Island, Petit Bois Island, Cat Island), and appropriate reference areas. A seagrass survey was performed to map and assess this sensitive habitat in the project area.

The first macroinfaunal characterization survey was carried out in early June, 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill but before oil reached the barrier islands of Mississippi. The subsequent surveys in September, 2010 and late April - early May, 2011 were designed to quantify seasonal variations in macroinfaunal species assemblages and individual abundance.  Results from this program may also be used to compare and contrast biological assemblages before and after oil reached the Mississippi barrier islands.

Relevant Tasks:

  • Seasonal biological surveys: sediment collection and benthic macroinfauna analysis

  • Development of a pre-construction database to support impact monitoring

  • Seagrass surveys

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