Shell Keys National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Shell Keys National Wildlife Refuge


(337) 598-2216

Map Directions

Things To Do



Established in 1907, Shell Keys National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is one of the oldest refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System. It is also a testimony to the fast eroding shoreline of Louisiana. For a number of years, there has been only one islet at this location. This islet is composed almost entirely of shell fragments. It is extremely dynamic and builds or recedes with passing storms. Vegetation is almost entirely lacking. Birds known to nest here include royal terns, sandwich terns, black skimmers, and laughing gulls. In addition, the islet is used at various times as a loafing area by white pelicans, brown pelicans, and various other species of terns and gulls. Recent hurricanes and storms have eroded the island to such an extent that no nesting has occurred since 1992. Public access to the refuge is restricted due to its remoteness.

Map of Shell Keys NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 30.372579, -89.930992



  • Boating

    Contact the Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex at 337-598-2216 for more information about reaching this remote location.

  • Fishing

    As the refuge is located just south of the coastline, fishing is the only activity that can reliably occur on the refuge. Redfish, spotted sea trout, flounder and other species feed on the baitfish that take shelter in the shallow waters of the key.


The key is often submerged for extended periods of time so that no nesting birds have been observed at the refuge for years. Birds do visit the key when it shows itself but it is inadvisable to head to this specific location to see wildlife. Coastal Louisiana in general, however, does offer some of the best wildlife observation and photography around.



Access to the refuge is only by boat. From Lafayette, LA, take Louisiana Highway 182 south to New Iberia, LA, then take Louisiana Highway 83 to the end, then boat 20 miles across West Cote Blanche Bay to edge of Gulf of Mexico. For location information call the Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex at 337-598-2216.

Phone Numbers


(337) 598-2216