Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum
The last word I would expect to use to describe a Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum would be beautiful. But the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi Mississippi is beautiful. Newly renovated from being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 they are housed in a brand new building. Not only is this museum beautiful, it is also interesting. Even if you don’t care for boats or fishing.
What is a TED? TED is a Turtle Excluder Device that is placed inside a (trawel/net). It keeps the turtles from being captured in the nets along with the shrimp. When it was first tested it had an 89 % success rate because not only did it help save the turtles but it also had minimal shrimp loss. Encouraged by the success rate, studies were done and they found that most turtles swam upwards after being caught. Top-opening TED designs on nets were then developed and the success rate rose to 97%.
The TED isn’t the only fascinating invention in this museum. I was amazed at the Automatic Shrimp Peeling machine which was created by sixteen year old James Martial Lapeyre. His father had told him one day, “Want to be rich? Create a shrimp peeler machine.” James thought up the idea for the machine while sitting in church and thought, ‘What about squeezing them?’ He went and tried his idea that day. Carefully stepping on the shrimp with his rubber boat, he gently applied pressure and out popped the shrimp! Due to his machine, shrimp became cheaper. And what happened to this boy that everyone called a dreamer and unrealistic? He became famous and kept inventing, a hundred and ninety patents are in his name.
Are you picky about the color of your shrimp? What about brown Shrimp? Read this account about Captain Joe Ross and brown shrimp by Kat Bergeron of The Sun Herald:
Captain Joe Ross had to reeducate locals about brown shrimp, the smaller, slightly darker summer shrimp found in the Mississippi Sound.
“In them days you couldn’t sell brown shrimp, and you couldn’t give them away,” he said. “Shrimpers threw them overboard because people believed they were bad shrimp maybe because of their color.”
He remembers in 1938 when his friend Joe Gauthreaux invited him to look in a tank at the foot of Oak Street, where oysters grew and fish and brown shrimp swam. Ross climbed the ladder but saw no shrimp. His friend told him to wait for a cloud, when the brown shrimp scurried out of hiding. That’s when he realized they didn’t like sun, and were best caught at night.
Brown Shrimp remained a hard sell, to say nothing of it being illegal to shrimp at night. He remembers his family boiling a pot of brown shrimp and eating them, with everybody standing around expecting them to fall over sick. It didn’t happen.
The public realized brown shrimp tasted good, and Ross lobbied to legalize night shrimp. He also lobbied to limit shrimping to at least a mile from shore to give smaller shrimp a chance to grow.
My favorite part of the Maritime and Seafood Industry museum is the Hurricane Katrina video. This video follows a news station report on the Hurricane. It’s interesting to watch as it starts out with them warning people about how bad the Storm will be. “It will be as bad as Hurricane Camille.” The newscaster stated seriously. “Get out now before it’s to late.”
As the storm approaches the tune changes. “Bunker down, it’s to late to evacuate now.” As the storm hits panicky calls start to come in.
“Save me.” They plead.
The 911 responders are forced to respond, “We cannot do anything until after the storm hits. All units cannot go out due to safety reasons.”
One 911 agent has a friend call her and say, “I know I’m going to die. I just wanted to say good bye.”
As the storm progresses the newscasters have to desert their newsroom as the Hurricane starts to rip off part of their building. They set up in another room, which they have to abandon again as the storm continues.
Finally at the end of the movie you see the after math of the storm. Full streets are wiped out. People are in shock and crying. But the devastation doesn’t end there. They now have to face being homeless, hungry, and having to depend on the government to help them. Despair is the outcome as weeks drag on.
In the room where the videos about Hurricane Katrina and Camille are played, are factoids about hurricanes.
The use of female names to identify hurricanes began in 1953. The practice was first established in the novel Storm by George R. Stewart in 1941. In earlier years, violent hurricanes were often named after the Saint’s day on which they occurred. In 1960, four sets of female names were established and used every four years on a rotational basis; and in 1979, men’s names were added to the sets. Names of hurricanes which seriously impact the United States are “retired” for ten years.
A storm surge is a great dome of water, often 50 miles wide that sweeps across a coastline near where the “eye” of a hurricane makes landfall. Without question, the most dangerous part of a hurricane, a storm surge cases 90 % of hurricane fatalities. Factors involved in the formation of a storm surge include bottom conditions, storm strength, and the position of the storm center in relation to the shore. Hurricanes Camille in 1969, and Katrina in 2005, produced surges in excess of 25 feet. With seawater weighing sixty-seven pounds per cubic foot and almost a ton per cubic yard, the surges produced by Camille and Katrina hurricanes were the equivalent of battering rams weighing twenty tons!
During the 30 year period following the storm, Mississippi Gulf Coast residents rebuilt their homes and businesses, following a stricter building code; however, Hurricane Katrina proved the new building code ineffective.
The room also has a timeline that stretches from 1901 to the future. Right now the board is blank after 2005, but the timeline goes up to 2050. It is a silent reminder that more natural disasters are due to come.
Enjoy this cherished local museum, and don’t forget to support the local economy by having some fresh seafood.