Pelican Island: A Dredge Spoil Island

22 June 2016: The enormous colony of Brown pelicans that nested on "Pelican Island" in Oregon Inlet have relocated to an island in Ocracoke due to overgrown vegetation and the presence of predators, such as foxes. Therefore, visiting the island where they formally layed their eggs is no longer part of Soundside Adventures' charters.

❝This small island is the result of dredging, a technique used to keep the channels around North Carolina's Oregon Inlet open to boats. Machines gather bottom sediment and dispose it in a different location.

"Pelican Island"
Outer Banks Brown pelicans

According to Brian Bockhahn of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 'Pelican Island' began in the early 80s and is currently about 20 acres. It is one of two major rookeries in North Carolina and is well-protected by law enforcement.

Brown pelicans have nested here for more than 30 years—after the vegetation had grown tall and shrubby enough to support their nests.

"Pelican Island"
OBX Brown pelicans
The nests contain one to three eggs and rest on the ground among the low bushes. After four to five weeks, the babies hatch. Between 500 to 1500 fledglings emerge from this island each year.

All the youngsters are banded and tracked by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The pelicans reach breeding maturity in three to four years and live up to 20 years. Because they have few predators, most die while tangled in fishing lines and nets or break their wings diving incorrectly.

Brown pelicans
OBX Brown pelicans
Over the years, a variety of animals have made their way from the mainland to the tiny island. Mammals such as deer, mice, and raccoon have even taken up residence there.

'Pelican Island' is open to the public outside of the breeding season—look for posted signs for details.❞

Captain Lenny