Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Callinectes sapidus

If when we die we're dead,
then the world is ours like gaudy grain
to be reaped while we're here, without guilt.
If not, then an ominous duty to feel
with the mite and the dragon is ours,
and a burden in being.

Late at night the ghosts of the crabs patrol our intestines,
scampering sideways, hearkening à pointe
like radar dishes beneath the tide, seeking
the safe grave of sand in vain, turning,
against their burning wills, into us.
from Crab Crack, by John Updike

When we were in Beaufort for our summer hols, Tim invited us around to a crab crack, of blue crab. My very first. I'm not a great fan of crab, and refuse to eat the imitation stuff, which isn't really crab at all but mostly pollack fish. And it wasn't easy getting stuck in with the wee one fast asleep on me in his sling. But I was slipped a morsel every now and then, and had to admit it was good stuff.

What really astounded me was the blue crab's colouring. When we first arrived at Tim's, the crabs were fresh from the steamer, and orange. Then when he loaded a second lot in, I saw them for the first time in all their glory. What a lovely creature. Tim taught me the difference between a male (Jimmy) and female (Sally) blue crab and, which are better for eating (Sally, of course, or possibly even Sook).

North Carolina is the number one producer of blue crab in the US, and apparently it's the most economically valuable fishery to the state. But in less than five years, over half of the state's processors have been forced to shut down and a coastal way of life is threatened.

And then there's the other side of the argument; and I quote from Sylvia Earle ("Her Deepness"), who I've met a few times and respect immensely: "I personally have stopped eating seafood. I know too much. I know that every fish counts at this point. Some more than others... If we value the ocean and the ocean's health at all, we have to understand that fish are critical to maintaining the integrity of ocean systems, which in turn make the planet work. We have been so single-minded about fish, thinking that the only good fish is a cooked fish, rather than recognizing their importance to the ecosystem that also has a great value to us."


Capt'n "O" Dark 30 said...

You should'nt be so "crabby" after-all it's your birthday!!

Happy Birthday KiWi!!!

The Capt'n

DaveO said...

Mmmm....crab! If we were maybe smart enough to just harvest the surplus we would be OK. Big, big 'if'. Saw the downside of ocean fish farming in BC; I don't think thats the answer.

Noel said...

Happy birthday :)