Ferry Slip Island is an artificial, undiked,
dredged-material island in the lower Cape Fear River south of Wilmington. The island consists entirely of dredged sand and is periodically renourished when suitable beach-quality sand is available. The sand provides excellent habitat for a variety of waterbird species, as well as nesting American Oystercatchers.

Ornithological Summary

Ferry Slip supports a large colony of Royal and Sandwich terns and a small colony of Laughing Gulls. The island also supports a significant colony of Brown Pelicans. Research and monitoring projects have contributed significantly to the knowledge of terns and pelicans (Criteria 5).

Conservation Issues

Human disturbance to nesting birds, erosion, vegetation encroachment, lack of suitable dredged sand available for restoration of early-succession habitat.

The availability of sand to maintain the island and early-succession nesting habitat is a concern. There is a growing trend to place all clean, beach-quality sand on local beaches, thus reducing the sand available to renourish this and other critical nesting sites for colonial wading birds and seabirds. This sand has not been available in recent years, which jeopardizes habitat for nesting terns. The island is posted and patrolled throughout the nesting season to prevent disturbance to nesting birds. Human disturbance can result in egg or chick loss, nest abandonment, and colony abandonment.


The site is protected and managed by Audubon North Carolina and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.


Dredged sand, sparse to moderate-density vegetation.

Land Use

Wildlife conservation.

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