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During a jubilee many species of crab and shrimp, as well as flounder, eels, and other demersal fish will leave deeper waters and swarm—in large numbers and very high density—in a specific, shallower coastal area of the bay.
The Mobile Bay jubilee typically takes place at least annually, and sometimes several times per year; years without a jubilee have been recorded, but they are exceedingly rare.
There is disagreement as to what, if any, effect local rainfall can have on the jubilee.
Almost all jubilees occur with an incoming tide, and an easterly wind.
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People who saw the wild scramble of fish and crabs on the sandy beach say they won't soon forget the sight.This was not, however, the first time the newspaper had covered the phenomenon; in his research, oceanographer Edwin B.May found several dozen mentions of similar events, the earliest dated back to July 17, 1867 and alludes to the fact that the phenomenon was known to have happened earlier: EXCITEMENT AMONG THE FISH—Yesterday all the fish in the bay seemed to be making for the Eastern shore.Many accounts of the jubilee exist, the oldest dating back to the 1860s. Author Archie Carr comments, "At a good jubilee you can quickly fill a washtub with shrimp.You can gig a hundred flounders and fill the back of your pickup truck a foot deep in crabs." It was not until 1960 that the phenomenon was explored in-depth by marine biologist Harold Loesch for the journal Ecology.