Friday, July 18, 2008

Soft Shell Crabs on Friday

One of my favorite meals on my occasional jaunt from New Jersey to sail somewhere on the Chesapeake was soft shell crabs. They are blue crabs caught just after molting (before the new shell has had time to harden) and are cooked after cutting out the gills, face and guts, and eaten whole. They are usually battered and fried, and can be eaten as a main course or in a sandwich.

Now that we live in Rhode Island it's unlikely I will be traveling very often to regattas in Maryland, home of the best soft-shell crabs in the country.

But wait...

According to this article at Science Daily, "A detailed analysis of data from nearly 50 years of weekly fish-trawl surveys in Narragansett Bay and adjacent Rhode Island Sound has revealed a long-term shift in species composition, which scientists attribute primarily to the effects of global warming."

The study's overall prediction is that, "Narragansett Bay is soon going to resemble estuaries to the south of us -- Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay -- so we'll experience what they are experiencing now. It will continue to get warmer and attract more southern species, such as blue crabs. Species that couldn't complete their life cycle here before may be able to do that now."

Wooooo hoooo. So one day Rhode Island will be like Maryland. And soft shell crabs will be the Rhode Island crustacean of choice. Who said global warming was a bad thing?


Anonymous said...

But do you really want windless conditions for all of July and August like we have?

Steve in Baltimore

tillerman said...

Good point Steve. The Narragansett Bay sea breeze is a treasure to be preserved.

Carol Anne said...

There's also the issue that folks in Maine have been noticing ... lobsters are having to move further north. So Maine lobsters are not so plentiful any more, and at some point, even Newfoundland lobsters might become a rarity.

So you might be gaining one marine arthropod at the expense of another.

tillerman said...

Absolutely Carol Anne. What the study discovered is that over the last 50 years the fish community in Rhode Island waters has shifted progressively from vertebrate species to invertebrates, from benthic or demersal species to pelagic species, and from larger cool=water species to smaller, warm-water species.

Meanwhile I read elsewhere that the blue crab population in the Chesapeake is declining.

Team Gherkin said...

I sure miss a consistent sea breeze here - and fresh seafood as well - living 120 miles inland! Oh well... mind you, it's much saner here than living down on the coast.

O Docker said...

You may not have long to wait for the blue critters to head your way.

Here on the left coast, salmon runs dropped over 90 per cent in just six years, causing a ban on almost all salmon fishing. No one knows why, but some think it's thermal changes messing with the ocean currents.

What's next - manatees in the Sakonnet?

"Ze gentle creatures roll slowly een ze warm waters, playfully brushing ze hull of ze passing Laser bateau."

Carol Anne said...

Mal, you think it's hard finding fresh seafood 120 miles inland? Try 1200 miles.

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