Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Crab Chat

I had another fun opportunity to chat with fans of Deadliest Catch last week. Boy, did we cover A LOT in 2 hours! Aside from funny snow crab mating behaviors, temperature dependent reproductive cycles, and just how many babies a snow crab female can make, here's a break-down of some topics we talked about:

Do we have to worry about mercury in crabs like we do mercury in fish?

We worry about mercury in tuna, swordfish, and even salmon because they're large fish that eat other fish and bioaccumulate methylmercury. In the case of tuna and swordfish, their long lives only help to increase this accumulation. Since crabs aren't really eating much fish (they prefer clams, mussels, and worms), we don't need to worry about mercury building up in their little bodies. The US limit for mercury is 1.0 parts per million, but crabs rarely are measured over 0.4 ppm with average king crab levels at 0.09 ppm and average Tanners (potentially including both Chionoecetes bairdi and C. opilio) at 0.15 ppm (see Table 3 here). American lobsters (Homarus americanus) seem to be the only crustacean with the ability to accumulate a higher level of mercury above the US limit, but their average is still maintained around 0.31 ppm. Overall, the answer is "No", we don't have to worry too much about mercury in crabs.

Why aren't blue king crabs fished as much as red king crabs?

It's not that blue king crab are hard to get to or just in the northernmost Bering Sea and Russia, making them difficult to fish due to sea ice coverage; blue kings have a wide distribution like red king crabs. The reason they're not fished is because they're so rare and few in numbers. You can see the density of blues from the National Marine Fisheris Service summer 2011 survey in the draft report here (go to page 53).

blue's range in yellow: you can see them in Southeast Alaska,
by the Pribs and St. Matt's, and near Norton Sound

What's Sig Hansen's crab dip recipe?

Oh man, we were talking A LOT about food! I love cooking and trying different recipes, whether they use crab or otherwise. Someone mentioned that Captain Sig has a crab dip recipe that he likes to make, and I for the life of me can't find it in the interwebs. The closest I got were these two clues:

A. "I like to just make a crab dip, just a regular spread. I bake it with cheese and bread crumbs on top. We like to watch a movie and have some crab dip." - Sig Hansen, from an interview by Hannah Sentenac

B. He apparently told a Swedish journalist (at CatchCon?) that he likes 'a hot crab dip with artichoke and a layer of cheese melted on top' - from a CatchCon recap by April MacIntyre

OK, I like the sound of the second one: gotta love bonus artichokes. I found a couple recipes, one super simple and one that reminded me of a halibut recipe I learned when I lived in Unalaska, so I'm going with the second one (found here, but modified a little):

Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts
1 cup lump crabmeat
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
bread crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Drain the artichokes, then chop them.
3. Mix with the other ingredients, transfer to an ovenproof dish.
4. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

If you know the real recipe let me know, but I'm super excited to try this one out!

Are you a Star Trek fan?

One funny thing to come out of Thursday's chat was the realization that most of us were also Star Trek fans! Is there some connection between crab fishing and deep space exploration??

"My tea (Earl Grey, hot) is so much better in this
Snow Crab Love mug!" - Capt. Picard

Thank you again, F/V Seabrooke fans and Deadliest Catch fans! I had a great chat with you and look forward to any future opportunities to talk shop crab with you!


  1. Er... Hope you don't mind, but I just copied it and made that my facebook pic. :) I did give you credit in my news feed.