This time of the year the crab boats go out the Golden Gate Bridge and place their crab pots in the Pacific Ocean. The round net pots are then left to sit for a few days and retrieved to bring in the harvest of delectable Dungeness crab. The crab season only lasts for a few weeks, but we love it when the boats come in and the fishermen unload the crab on the wharf. Almost every time they come in some of the fresh crab falls off the boat onto the wharf and sometimes we are able to ‘procure’ them. For a long time we had trouble dealing with the crab because they have a hard shell. Finally, purely by accident, we figured out how to solve the problem of access to the crab. One of my dumb nephews almost got run over by a car while trying to peck his way into a whole crab lying on the parking lot. He dodged out of the way and the car ran over the crab, and bingo ! the shell was cracked. Now we drag the whole crab out from where it has fallen off the boat and put it in the driveway of the parking lot. That way the cars run over it and crack the shell so we have access to the inside. We call it ‘vulcanizing’ the crab, and the taste of the rubber from the car tires adds a special flavor. It seems as though every year the crab season gets shorter and starts later in the season. Those of us in the avian squadron look forward to the crabs showing up every year and hope the season gets extended.
Editor’s Note: The Dungeness crab ( Metacarcinus magister, previously Cancer magister) grow to 8-9 inches across; the range is from north of Washington State to mid-California. It was named for the town of Dungeness, Washington and the crab is the Official State crustacean of Oregon. As an additional note the fourth astrological sign is Cancer and is depicted in the constellations by a crab; the sign is fittingly thought to be a water sign and fills the period from June 21 to July 23. Dungeness crab feed on clams, small crustaceans and small fish using their powerful main claws to crack the shell of the clams and hard shelled crustaceans. They are also voracious scavengers. The crab pots are ‘baited’ with ‘ripe’ fish, and the tendency of the crab to scavenge helps to encourage them to enter the trap. The Dungeness crab season is short to help conserve the number of adult crab and maintain the fishery stock. The crab has an exterior skeleton known as an exoskeleton and it is difficult to crack. When the crab is cooked and sold the shell is cracked with a mallet before being served. For more information on the activities on Fisherman’s Wharf and the SS Jermiah O’Brien please visit our web site at ssjeremiahobrien.org