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Crab season gets crackin’ for Sonoma

Commercial Dungeness crab season began at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning along the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts.

Delayed first by the presence of neurotoxin domoic acid, then by insufficient shell development and crab meat quantities, and finally by passing whales possibly getting caught in crab traps, the season finally opened on Dec. 15.

A common haul per day might run around 1,500 to 6,000 pounds of wiggly crabs, though one boat came in Monday with 9,000 pounds.

Wholesalers were paying about $3 per pound. Each crab should measure about 6.5 inches across, because anything smaller is supposed to be thrown back to live longer and grow bigger.

As of Tuesday, cleaned and cracked crab in Sonoma varied in price from $7.99 a pound at Safeway and $8.99 at Sonoma Market, to $10.99 at Whole Foods.

Indulging in Dungeness crab, with or without melted butter or mayonnaise, is in itself an occasion.

Festive dining tables might be covered with anything from newspaper to elegant china, with crab devoured using tools from fingers and crab claws to silver lobster forks to pry the meat out of the crab shells.

One crabber back from his first night’s outing this season told ABC-7 that, “Finally we can go back to work to make a living risking our lives,” after returning from a windy night riding eight to 10-foot waves.

Sport or recreational crabbing began Nov. 2.

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