A Crabby Day

After a few days away from town, I couldn't wait to walk on the beach again. I never know what to expect when I walk along North Beach. Sometimes giant trunks of driftwood have floated onto the beach, other times the sand has disappeared under a jumble of kelp and seaweed, and then all the seaweed can be washed away by a high tide that leaves the sand clean again. As I arrived at North Beach, I wondered what the waves and tides would have delivered this time. Today I found crab shells, or I should properly say crab carapaces. 


I often see small Dungeness crabs crawling on the beach, and the Dungeness Spit isn't far away from here. Dungeness Crab is also an important local export. Living here, I've eaten the freshest crabs ever. Once at a seafood shop by the marina I picked out a live Dungeness Crab from a tank teeming with thousands of live crabs, and for me it was an overwhelming experience to stand in front of so many crabs at once. Since then I only buy them from a fish shop that displays just a few at a time. Many locals here use a small power boat to drive out to their crab pots on the bay, where dozens of floating flags indicate people's personal traps. A man we know brought us fresh crabs from his crab pots twice, and refused to accept money, saying "You just don't pay for crabs." 


Dungeness aren't the only crabs washed ashore on the beaches. Before moving to Port Townsend, I hadn't noticed different kinds of crabs on beaches, and now I’m curious about all the different species. In the past few weeks I've found a couple of rough pentagonal Helmet Crab carapaces, and several brown Kelp Crab carapaces (like the big one in this photo), and there are dozens of species I haven't yet seen. Since some live deep in the Puget Sound, I probably won't find their carapaces on my walks along the Port Townsend beaches.


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