Heavy rainfall closes oyster reefs just before Thanksgiving

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Heavy rainfall has interrupted the Mississippi oyster season yet again. The Department of Marine Resources closed all reefs Tuesday afternoon due to excessive amounts of rain.

Whether it's on-the-half-shell or in their dressing, oysters are part of many families' Thanksgiving feasts. It didn't take long for word to spread that the reefs would close at 4:00 p.m. until further notice. The news had many people rushing to the docks in Pass Christian.

The fishermen pulled in to the Pass Christian Harbor, and customers waited eagerly by the dock to buy their oysters fresh off the boat.

"I'd drive from California to get these oysters," said Victor Mason of Long Beach.

"Some of the best oysters you can get. Good," commented one dock worker as he shucked and tried one.

With the meat fat and tasty, many families want to make sure traditional oyster dishes show up on their Thanksgiving dinner table.

"I'm trying to get some oysters for some Thanksgiving dressing," said George Boyd of Gulfport.

"I'm making gumbo, oyster pie, and I'm going to fry some up tonight and make po-boys," said Shannon Cannette of Biloxi.

Cannette drove all the way from Biloxi to buy enough oysters for his holiday feast.  Usually, the day before Thanksgiving is one the busiest days for oyster sales. But this year, the DMR had to close the reefs early due to the large amount of rainfall Monday night.

"I'm just here today and just glad I can come get me a couple of sacks before they close on me," said Cannette.

Kimball's Seafood sold 37 sacks in one day. For those who couldn't make it to the dock by the 4:00 p.m. deadline, the business can help ease your worries.

"We're going to hold some in the truck overnight, so you can still get oysters tomorrow. Even though the oyster season will be closed, we will be here," said Darlene Kimball.

When asked if she was disappointed with this latest glitch in an already rough oyster season, Kimball replied, "Yes, very, but I know it happens, and it does happen. It's Mother Nature."

The DMR plans to conduct water samples on Monday to determine whether to reopen the reefs next week. Oyster season typically ends in April.

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