Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Art of Rock Crabbing

Tools Required:
1. Super low tide (-3.1 or better)
2. Beach Shoes or Rubber Boots
3. Sturdy Rake
4. Big, Deep Bucket
5. Gloves (maybe)

1. Crabs must be 5 1/2
inches across the top of their shell to be legal
2. Must have shellfish license and can only take 6 per person (must also be Crab Season)
3. Leave the girl crabs on the beach (flip them over before putting them in the bucket to make sure)
4. Don't get your fingers anywhere near their strong front claws - OUCH!

Here's Alex, headed out on the hunt for the mighty Rock Crab! Note the determined stride, to find the wily creatures hiding under big leaf seaweed and in hidden holes under big rocks. Rock Crabs are distinctly different than Dungeness, shells are much tougher, brighter red in color and taste (I think) much sweeter than a Dungeness. They are definitely worth the effort!

I am a great bucket holder and picture taker, and perfectly happy to let Dad and Alex rake for the crabs under the bigger rocks, and wade out into the water to find them scuttling along underneath the layers of kelp. They are both wearing boots... my beat-up Keds won't withstand a rock crab pinch!

One of the best side benefits of rock crabbing is getting the chance to see all kinds of other sea life that we normally don't see because it is all covered up by cold, deep Puget Sound water. I found some of the most gorgeous, colorful sea stars that I have ever seen, and again am always amazed at nature's color palette.

Look closely at the photo on the right, for the girl crab hiding underneath the rock near the light purple sea star on the left.

Anemones galore on my mom and dad's beach!

Brilliant oranges and reds - have to be so careful though when shooting the pictures to not touch them, or they quickly shrink out of sight.

Alex and Dad easily found 11 crabs and I actually found 3 all by myself! Lots of girl crabs and crabs missing front claws that we decide to leave on the beach for next year. As you can probably tell from the photo, it is a little tricky to capture one and make sure that it doesn't pinch you. Here's Alex with one large rock crab on his rake before he deposits him in the bucket. We can put quite a few crabs in each bucket, and they usually fight for a while before settling down. So Critical to have a deep bucket to prevent escaping!

Next blog post: Now that you've caught 14 crabs, what do you do with them?

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