Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Super Crab!

Who'd've thunk it: Super Man was a crab fisherman!?!

OK gang: where do we think he's setting crab pots? Off Alaska? Newfoundland? Out of Anacortes, WA or Kodiak, AK? Let the speculating begin!

Friday, August 24, 2012


The fishery for opies this past year had some exciting news: the stock was declared rebuilt and the quota was increased by 64% for the 2011-12 season. But, in the joy of the fishery we had some troubling news: FIVE boats were caught with females in their possession in June. That = no good.

How did 5 boats all accidentally bring home the ladies? Some are blaming it on the timing of the sea ice retreat this year: there was heavy sea ice for much of the season, so instead of finishing the season around March or April, it pushed the ending to June 15th. What does that have to do with catching female snow crabs? Well, the extension of the season may have pushed into the timing when primiparous or multiparous females have released their clutches and are ready to mate again, putting them in the vicinity of the commercially targeted males. That urge to mate, coupled with poor sorting to "pay close attention to crustacean gender distinctions", may have lead to the five violations.

females (top) have a wide abdominal flap to hold egg clutches
while males (bottom) have a skinny flap to protect their gonopods

Hmm. Here's some food for thought:

The legal size limit for male snow crabs is 78 mm carapace width, although the commercially targeted males tend to be at least 102 mm carapace width.

Female snow crabs are so small compared to males (remember how tiny the gal looked in this video and this video?) and in the 2011 summer survey looked to only reach max carapace widths between 70 - 75 mm.

Perhaps if they were opilio-bairdi hybrids the females could reach the legal size limit (see the size disparity of female snow crabs and Tanner crabs here), but the fact remains that they're still female.

Poor sorting for gender aside, keeping female opies may indicate poor sorting for size as well.

Size distribution of female snow crabs (top panel) and
female Tanner crabs (bottom panel) from the
draft of the 2011 summer trawl survey report

There's a lot of hard work and effort on those boats to bring delicious crab back to land (and to our dinner plates), and the conditions do not make for a nice work environment. I'd like to gives the guys the benefit of the doubt that the retention of females on 5 boats was a simple, rushed error, and I hope, for the health of the fishery, it was a once fivce in a blue moon mistake.

2011 Bering Sea Report Draft:
Chilton, E. A., C. E. Armistead, and R. J. Foy. 2011. The 2011 Eastern Bering Sea Continental Shelf Bottom Trawl Survey: Results for Commercial Crab Species. NOAA Tech Memo NMFS-AFSC.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dungeness crabs rock!

I couldn't come up with a good title for this post because I'm just too full of Dungie crab goodness to think. But I have some pictures of a recent outing with some friends and I thought I'd share some tidbits of information with you about the Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) fishery.


The personal use fishery is open all year round in Southeast Alaska, which means you can catch Dungies in the winter, spring, summer, or fall! All you have to do is call go out crabbing. (Sorry, I got stuck in a James Taylor song.)

enjoying a sunny summer Juneau day

The 2010 commercial fishery landed 3.569 million pounds of Dungeness crab in Southeast AK, with an exvessel price (in Juneau) of $1.75 per pound (it was $1.71 in Petersburg and Wrangell).

the mighty claw: both strong and tasty

Southeast Alaskans aren't the only predators getting in on this crab action: otters, sea lions, and even the occasional sculpin will feast on the crabs:

Sean holding a crab claw piece taken from the stomach of a sculpin we caught
(totally NOT from one of the crabs we'd just eaten...) 

I hope you learned a little (laughed a little?) and, if you're in Southeast with a crab permit, will enjoy these guys from the proper areas and at the proper size (6.5 inch carapace width). Thanks! And thanks again, guys, for all the Dungeness crabs!

crab pots and mountains: perfect Southeast view!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A day at the races

Here I was, going through Olympics withdrawal, when I did my usual "crabs" Google search and came across this gem:


Apparently assigning your fantasy football draft order is pretty tough (because, you know, it's so real. And important. Life changing even? Truth: I've never had a fantasy football team, but I might this year, so maybe after our draft picks I'll be singing a different tune.). ANYWHO, the Baltimore Orioles were in quite a tizzy about who got to go first, so to solve it they called upon the power of the crab!

"Put me in, coach!"

Darren O’Day, pitcher for the Orioles, decided the best way to go about this was pick up some blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus), assign each a person to represent, and have a good old fashioned crab race! Why crabs? Because, as O'Day put it, "That’s what you do in Maryland. Crabs and football[.]" Nice.

"I am a champion!" - Chris Davis’ crab

Crab racing - that competition I've been craving since the awesome Men's 4x400 quailfier when Manteo Mitchell broke his leg while running AND FINISHED! (The blue crab racers were awarded a little less brilliantly than Olympic athletes though: they were turned into crab dip.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Crab Snacks

I feel a little bad for bragging about all the crab I got to eat in the last post, and I realize not everyone can get fresh crab that easily (kind of like getting crispy fresh apples in Juneau).

Show off!

To inspire crab love and crab eating, but minus the crunchy critters, here are some examples of crab-themed snacks to go with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!

A crab apple! (we all know I love a good crab apple reference)
This red delicious fellow has half an apple, 2 (or 3) strawberries,
and some marshmallows, though I would use banana slices and
blueberries for eyes to keep it fresh and yummy!

Is it a crabwich, or a crabssant?
Either way, he can have whatever sammy filling you like,
plus rock some carrot stick legs, some cheesey eyes,
and some red pepper claws. Delicious!

Remember the little octopus-dog from this post?
Well, with a little clever cutting, you can get not only
2 octopus from one hot dog, but also 2 little crab friends!

Last but not least: a crab cupcake topper!
Those orange slice candies both delight me and
make my teeth hurt - but it's so cute!
(see this post for other crab cake toppers)

I hope you enjoy your crabby snacks! Let me know if you try any of these or if you make other crab-themed treats!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Games Soup

Are you cheering on the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, India, Russia, Switzerland, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, or any other country that might read this blog? Is your throat sore from screaming, "Jump higher! Go faster! Stick the landing!"? Well have I got a soup for you that will soothe even the most ardent fan and leave you going for the gold... corn that is! Hey-oh!

Golden Corn and Crab Chowder
(so corny, I almost didn't write that joke)

We made this because our friend came back from a fishing job with that rare problem: too much crab and not enough fridge/freezer space. That's where we (my husband and I) bravely stepped up and said, "Don't worry. If eating Dungeness crab is a team sport, call us Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsch Jennings!"

"We freaking LOVE crabs!"

You'll need:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning blend
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 - 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or broth
2 - 4 cups whole milk
3 cups corn kernels, scraped fresh from the cob, canned, or frozen
8 ounces cooked lump crab meat (cooking tips here)

crabs. boom.

1. Heat a deep pot over medium heat. Add oil and butter. As you chop your veggies, add them to the pot: potatoes, celery, onion, and red bell pepper (this helps even out the cooking time for the potatoes with everything else!). Add a bay leaf to the pot. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and Old Bay seasoning then saute it all for 5 minutes.

2. Sprinkle in your flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the broth and combine. Next comes the milk, stirring to combine. I would aim for the lower end of the broth/milk amounts since I like a thicker chowder, but I included the original measurements (2 cups broth, 4 cups milk) if you're into that.

3. Bring the soup up to a low boil. Add the GOLDEN corn (see that Olympic theme?) and crab meat and simmer for 5 minutes.

soup's on!

4. Adjust the soup seasonings (the original recipe called for a whole tablespoon of Old Bay, and that always seems too overpowering for me, but I did end up sprinkling a bit more in along with some garlic powder to taste). Ladle soup into soup bowls or bread bowls if you want to get fancy like the sourdough bowl I had in San Francisco.

look at all that goodness!
(yes, I took this out on my back porch for some natural light)

I hope you enjoy it! If I had my way, I would've doubled up the crab (eat it if you got it!), but hopefully you'll love this soup as much as I love these ladies:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Doing the wave makes you cool

Will and Kate know what I'm talking about:

Fiddler crab males like to wave too, and while their wave is more like, "Hey Girl" rather than "USA! All the way!", that big claw of theirs is keeping them cool.

"It's super hot out here, but that's not going to stop
me from waving at you, baby!" - male playa fiddler crab

Having a large claw is important for males when competing for females, but it's quite the nuisance: it's metabolically taxing to make and maintain the claw (and muscle), it makes movement across the sand difficult, and the worst thing (in my opinion) is that the massive claw gets in the way when eating. You may be thinking, "All that trouble just so he can say hello to the ladies?" Well, while the male is out there in the hot sun, waving up a storm, the large claw helps him stay physically cool. Heat in his body is transferred to his claw and lost through convective heat transfer, kind of like how African elephants stay cool with their large ears.

 "Hooray! We're proud of the Olympic athletes and super cool!"

Read more:
Darnell, M. Z., and P. Munguia. 2011. Thermoregulation as an alternate function of the sexually dimorphic fiddler crab claw. American Naturalist 178: 419 - 428.