Going Crabbing with James

DinnerLast weekend, I went crabbing with James. The term ‘crabbing’ usually suggests going out in a boat and dropping some crab traps over the side, and coming back later to pick them up.

We did things a little differently–we went snorkling off the beach in West Van. Or rather, James did things differently, and I just copied what he did.

See, in addition to being a novelist and Webby-type, James knows how to hunt and fish and do all manner of manly things. I, on the other hand, feel sorry for the bacteria when I clean the sink.

We pitched up on the rainy shore of Sandy Cove in West Van, and put on our wetsuits. This was the first time in a wetsuit for me, and I’m very glad no one was there to capture the moment. It was truly comical as I pulled on the human prophylactic.

The water was cold. Really cold. I’ve only been snorkling a few times before, and that was in the warm waters of Cuba. The warm, clear waters, as the waters off BC only permit visibility to about 10 to 12 feet. There was all manner of interesting fish, starfish and sea anemones to see among the kelp beds.
It was great fun, trying to catch crabs. I mostly tried, and James mostly caught, but I get an A for effort. Eventually we caught three red rock crabs, which made for a very tasty dinner later on.

Valuable life lessons from the experience:

  • If a crab is upside down, it’s almost definitely dead.
  • Lung capacity matters when you’re upside down underwater trying to track down a crab.
  • Crabs are quick on their feet.
  • Food tastes better when you catch it yourself, even if it is unpleasant to kill.


  1. I’m glad to hear the crabs were delicious. We’ll have to catch some dungeoness and red rocks at the same time and do a taste comparison.

    Next up: salmon fishing!

  2. I find the flavour of Red Rocks superior, and the claws nicer, but Dungeness meat is more firm, and it’s easier to get out of the shell.

    I like both equally, but will put back the smaller Red Rocks in favour of Dungeness if I’m getting near the limit — they’re bigger.

  3. The water around here is cloudier because it is more alive: the cloudiness is generally plankton, which feeds everything else, and is the reason that in many areas, like the Gulf Islands and any other non-estuary areas of the coast, once you get under the water it’s hard to find a surface that’s not covered in living things.

    Tropical waters are clear because they’re less productive, although that does make them prettier to look through.

    Finally, a way to put my Marine Biology degree to good use!

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