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Experiencing the Magic of Jubilees on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay


By: Chris Andrews

Mobile Bay, with its rich history and vibrant marine life, is home to a rare and captivating phenomenon known as a Jubilee. Occurring in only two places in the world—here on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay and a bay in Japan—Jubilees are a remarkable natural event that brings the bay’s marine life to the shore in a quest for survival. Let’s dive into the enchanting world of Jubilees and explore why they are a cherished part of the Eastern Shore’s unique heritage.

What is a Jubilee?

A Jubilee is an extraordinary event where bottom-dwelling sea creatures like shrimp, flounder, crabs, and eels swarm to the shore in search of oxygen. This phenomenon typically occurs during the summer months when specific weather and tidal conditions align. Jubilees are driven by a combination of hot temperatures, easterly winds, and rising tides that create an oxygen depletion in the water.

The Science Behind Jubilees

Jubilees occur when easterly winds push oxygen-poor water from the depths to the surface, while freshwater from northern rivers and saltwater from the south mix in the bay. The unique geography of Mobile Bay, with its shallow depths and specific tidal patterns, plays a crucial role in facilitating this event. As the oxygen levels drop, marine creatures move to the shoreline or deeper waters to find oxygen.

A Local Tradition

For the residents of the Eastern Shore, Jubilees are more than just a natural curiosity—they are a treasured tradition. In the past, people would ring bells to alert the community of an impending Jubilee. Today, the news spreads quickly through text messages and phone calls, prompting families and friends to rush to the bay with nets in hand. It’s a communal event where people gather to catch an abundance of seafood, creating lasting memories.

Where and When to Witness a Jubilee

Fairhope Pier on the Eastern Shore might be the best free spot for out of towners to witness a Jubilee. These events usually occur early in the morning or during the night and can last a few hours. While Jubilees are unpredictable, old-timers and locals often use their knowledge of weather patterns to anticipate when one might happen. Typically, Jubilees happen several times over the summer, offering multiple opportunities to experience this unique event.

The Unique Ecology of Mobile Bay

Mobile Bay is an ecological wonder, being the fourth largest drainage basin by volume of water in North America. It processes 40 billion gallons of water per day, ensuring a dynamic and ever-changing environment. This rapid water turnover helps maintain the bay’s health, preventing the accumulation of pollutants and supporting a diverse range of marine life.

A Global Rarity

The fact that Jubilees occur in only two places worldwide underscores the uniqueness of Mobile Bay. With countless bays, estuaries, and shores around the globe, it’s remarkable that such a phenomenon is so rare. This rarity adds to the allure of Jubilees, making them a must-see event for both locals and visitors.


Experiencing a Jubilee on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay is witnessing nature’s wonder firsthand. Whether you’re a local who has grown up with this tradition or a visitor eager to see something extraordinary, a Jubilee is a reminder of the beauty and complexity of our natural world. So, next time you’re on the Eastern Shore, keep an eye on the weather and tides—you might just be in for a magical experience!

Hear the story of jubilees and more stories that make the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay one of the most unique places in the world on one of our Taste of Fairhope Food Tours. We hope to see you soon on the shores of Mobile Bay!

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