Dauphin Island, Alabama

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{area, community, home}
{water, park, boat}
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Dauphin Island is a town in Mobile County, Alabama (U.S.), on a barrier island also named Dauphin Island (split by the Katrina Cut), at the Gulf of Mexico. The population was 1,371 at the 2000 census. The town is included in the Mobile metropolitan statistical area. The island (originally named "Massacre Island") was renamed for Louis XIV's great-grandson and heir, the Dauphin.

The Gulf of Mexico is to the south of the island; the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay are to the north. The island's eastern end helps to define the mouth of Mobile Bay. The eastern, wider portion of the island is shaded by thick stands of pine trees, but the narrow, western part of the island features scrub growth and few trees.

Dauphin Island is home to Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, The Estuarium public aquarium, the Dauphin Island Airport, boat ramps, a large public pier, historics sites, several restaurants, new condominium developments, and numerous private homes. Beaches attract tourism, and fishing is a popular activity in the waters around the island. The island is connected to the mainland by the Gordon Persons Bridge.

Although the island has several bird sanctuaries, the main one is the 164 acre (66.37 ha) Audubon Bird Sanctuary. Dauphin Island is the first landfall encountered by many birds as they migrate north from South America, and as a consequence many species can be found resting there before continuing their journey.

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History

Serpentine shell middens, perhaps 1500 years old, attest to at least seasonal occupation by the Native American Mound Builder culture. Shell Mound Park, along the Island's northern shore, is administered by Alabama Marine Resources Division.

In 1519, the Spanish explorer Alonzo Pineda was the first documented European to visit, staying long enough to map the island with remarkable accuracy.

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