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Mad hatters, seafood jubilees, & Pfiesteria Files

more mercury into Long Island Sound, threatening its fisheries, and once again imperiling human health through seafood contamination.
CONTACT: Johan Varekamp, Professor in Geology, Chair, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University, (O) 860-685-2248, Email: jvarekamp@wesleyan.edu

Seafood "jubilee" means easy fishing in Mobile bay
The term "jubilee" means celebration, and for seafood lovers along the Gulf Coast there is indeed cause for celebration. Every summer, residents of Mobile Bay, Alabama are the beneficiaries of a seafood "jubilee." Certain conditions bring crabs, flounder and other bottom-dwelling creatures to the water's surface in a phenomenon called a "jubilee." The result is an abundance of seafood that is easy to catch and enjoy.

"Jubilees" may occur in other areas, but have been recorded almost yearly since the 1860s in Mobile Bay. They usually take place on an early summer morning after a cloudy day that includes a slight east wind, a calm bay surface and a rising tide. Additionally, conditions must include low levels of oxygen in the water, warm temperatures and stratification, in which freshwater floats on top of denser saltwater. When this occurs, the gentle east wind pushes the low-oxygen water shoreward, and sea creatures must stay ahead of it or swim over the top in order to breathe.

As a result, bottom-dwellers are pushed to the shore as the low-oxygen water moves toward them. Flounder, stingrays, eels, blue crab, shrimp and smaller fish are trapped at the shoreline. The lack of oxygen causes them to behave strangely as they move slowly and struggle for air, and it gives residents a chance to capture some of the victims. As many as several thousand pounds of fish and shellfish may be harvested at one time. By sunrise, the "jubilee" conditions subside and the affected fish swim back to the bottom of the bay.
CONTACT:
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Contact: Ben Sherman
sherman@nasw.org
202-662-7095
National Sea Grant College Program
21-Jun-2002


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