First reports started about 6 a.m. Wednesday. Of course, it usually takes loyal watchers for Jubilees a while to notice what the Bay creatures immediately know.

The rare phenomenon that occurs only in Baldwin County and one other place in the world started Wednesday around sunrise – a Jubilee.

Crabs, eels, fish, shrimp, fish and a variety of other underwater occupants of Mobile Bay came to the surface near the shore, some on shore.

The rare phenomenon occurs when oxygen levels in the water drop rapidly, sending fish and other creatures to the surface.

First reports came on the active Facebook group, "Jubilee Alert for Eastern Shore." The sightings were off Zundel Road near the Grand Hotel in Point Clear on Mobile Bay’s Eastern Shore.

Quick checks of other spots on the Eastern Shore known for Jubilees in years past indicated nothing. May Day Pier in Daphne reported nothing.

Thomas Falkenberry, a top contributor to the Jubilee watch group, posted on Tuesday and predicted a possibility of a Jubilee today, but he had this caution:

“This is the kind of day you hope for in August and September. Not the normal wind. Maybe it will last all day and all night. The tides are way off, but it does happen, usually after daylight. And for my usual comment, ‘There is no 100% rule.’"


5:30 and the wind is a little stronger and out of the north. It's pretty choppy and muddy at Mayday. Real rough in Fairhope probably. Maybe the wind will shift to NE.”

Wednesday morning produced the experience that few get to experience – except for those on “Jubilee alert” on the Eastern Shore of Baldwin County, Alabama.

The alert few flocked there and gathered, by net or gig or hand – crabs, flounder, eels, shrimp, and various fish.  The bounty of the Bay came to the surface near the shore.  Ice coolers were quickly filled.

Jubilees occur in only two places in the world – Mobile Bay and Tokyo Bay, Japan.  They occur with no notice and are not easily predictable.  They usually hit Baldwin County several times each summer, though that timetable can vary.  Jubilees may affect all of the Eastern Shore from Daphne (in the north, near I-10) to Mullet Point (south of the Grand Hotel), a distance of about 15 miles.  More often, they are limited to a few hundred feet of beach. That was the case Wednesday in the Zundel Road area.

For a Jubilee, a combination of conditions must exist.  Here is a complex explanation of causes of Jubilees from the Fairhope Chamber of Commerce:

Jubilees usually only occur in the summer, usually in the morning before sunrise. The previous day’s weather conditions must include an overcast or cloudy day, a gentle wind from the east, and a calm and slick bay surface. Also, a rising tide is necessary; a change to a falling tide will stop the jubilee. It takes a combination of all these conditions to produce the phenomenon.

Jubilees are believed to be caused by a combination of factors in Mobile Bay --upward movement of oxygen-poor bottom waters; pockets of salty water in the deep parts of the northern part of Mobile Bay stagnating during calm conditions; saltwater layering, with heavier salty Gulf water overlain by lighter, fresher river water.

These deepwater pockets tend to collect plant matter washed into the Bay from the marshes and swamps upstream. As this vegetative matter decomposes, it provides food for the microorganisms in the water. An abundant food supply combined with the warm water temperature causes a population explosion. As these microorganisms grow and multiply, they consume tremendous quantities of oxygen. In this way, the bottom water becomes very low in oxygen-poor water remains in the deep pocket offshore.

Due to the lack of oxygen, these jubilee-affected fish and shellfish cannot carry out normal muscular activities, such as swimming. They move slowly and seem reluctant to swim even to escape capture. However, few fish or crustaceans die during jubilees, except for those caught by jubilee enthusiasts.

No one knows when or at what area on the beach the next jubilee will occur. Most summers there are several but you can’t even be sure of that!

Jubilee Information | City of Fairhope, AL (

Wanna go to a Jubilee?  You could move to the Eastern Shore, as thousands have done for various reasons. 

Or you could have friends or family who live there and who faithfully keep a lookout for Jubilees.  They could alert you.  There would be little or no advance notice, so you would have to drop what you are doing (likely sleeping) and immediately head for the Eastern Shore. You would need to keep your Jubilee gear packed and ready to grab and high-tail-it to the reported Jubilee spots on the Eastern Shore.

Or you can join the Facebook group with members that maintain a vigil and post alerts on their page.  It is “Jubilee Watch Baldwin County.”  

The group posted alerts and photos Wednesday morning as soon as the Jubilee started.

August is the biggest month for Jubilees, but this Jubilee made its presence early, on June 12. People have been saying that it feels like August already. The sea creatures apparently agreed.

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler’s beat is the colorful and positive about Alabama. He writes about Alabama people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

Zeigler is a resident of Mobile County, Alabama and formerly of Daphne in Baldwin County.

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