There’s only way to get your hands on a blue crab: Go out and catch one. (Or dozens, day after day—as our new friends on Tangier Island, VA, explained, when we paddled there in June.) Here’s a little photo essay from our visit to a “crab house” with local waterman, Denny C.
Besides churchgoing, harvesting blue crab shapes life here. On workdays, watermen are up at 3:30 a.m.
The “crab houses” that line the harbor are essentially “shedding pounds” where the molting of the crabs can be monitored (by hand, of course!).
Now we’re really feeling like silly city folk: Denny explains where soft-shell crab comes from (duh, it’s a hard shell crab that’s completely shed its hard shell—claws and all). But act fast! That rubber crab will have a new suit of armor in just a couple of hours.
US Capitol Building? A female. The Washington Monument: Male.
Soft crabs bring the highest prices. Crabbers quickly remove them from the water before a new shell starts to form and pack them in grass and ice for shipping to Crisfield and NYC’s Fulton Fish Market.
Thanks to Ailsa for this week’s travel theme! More photos are here (click for handy slideshow):
We still don’t know why this puffer fish is here… keeping the crabs company?
Crab cake at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House
More on our trip to Tangier Island, Virginia, 6/17-19. In our previous post, we described Tangier as shrinking. Well, the better word is “sinking.” In an odd we-were-just-there coincidence, the New York Times on 7/10/16 published a fascinating article about Tangier’s predicament, which according to David Schulte, marine biologist with the US Army Corps of Engineers, is this: The island may have only 50 years left, and its residents are likely to become some of the first climate-change refugees in the United States.
Tossing our boats over the wall of the town dock…
…much to the amusement of the local watermen
Tangier has lost two thirds of its landmass since 1850. And it’s not alone: Over the past four centuries, more than 500 islands have disappeared from the [Chesapeake] bay, about 40 of them once inhabited. Most of Tangier Island, which consists of several long sandy ridges connected by footbridges and amounts to a little over a square mile, is approximately four or five feet above sea level.
Yet, there remains this beautiful fact: The low elevations and the quiet, bird-filled wetlands and tidal creeks produce a sense of living with the water, rather than beside it. (Click for video.)
Paddling what’s left of the Tangier region called “Uppards”
Alex in the “zipper,” recently a dry sandy hook
We learned a lot of new things over the course of our 10-day, 120-mile paddle. (If you’re just tuning in, we invite you to visit our previous Keys posts.) Today’s eureka:
#7: It’s possible to paddle in the shade.
The sun’s strong here. Luckily, mangrove forests are everywhere (but they’re tight quarters….just remember to take your paddle apart and maneuver with one half).
Short cut! Mangroves line more than 1,800 miles of shoreline within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The dense tangle of prop roots make the trees appear to be standing on stilts above the water. This tangle helps the trees handle the daily rise and fall of tides. Most mangroves get flooded at least twice per day.
The red mangrove produces a spear-shaped seed that is up to 10 inches long and will float until it implants into soil.
Seeking relief (ahem) on a black mangrove island
Or you can paddle in the shadows of the Long Key Viaduct (1907) and modern-day Long Key Bridge.
The Long Key Viaduct was part of Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad; today, it’s a bike and pedestrian path/fishing pier
Long Key Bridge was built to replace the Long Key Viaduct (1907), which still stands parallel to the bridge.
Sometimes you just have to make your own shade. (2G3K Gear Recommendation: the versatile UV Buff)…
Jean, is that you?
Hen at SPF 1,000
…Or you can simply take advantage of passing clouds.
Next up: Wildlife takes vacations too. 🙂
Continuing Ed on 10 Things We Learned while paddling from Key Largo to Key West. (Crib notes here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) 🙂
#5: The Keys are an ancient coral reef…
#6: …and quirky as hell.
Beer-and-babes motorboat vs. kayaking nature nerds
Early in the trip, we took a short cut (literally) from oceanside to Florida Bay—the tides of which don’t correspond, by the way. (A geographical quirk!) Paddling through Adams Cut, a manmade residential canal, we glimpsed Key Largo in cross-section: its deep coral foundation.
Fossilized coral is rock hard. You need tent stakes as long as your forearm.
An iguana poses for Hen on his front porch
Dinosaur-like iguana, ancient coral-reef home foundation
We pitched our tents in a number of RV (“recreational vehicle”) campgrounds. Nice word for “trailer parks.” For us geeks, this was a whole new world of massive rolling castles and snowbirding nomads. Hmm, and you thought NYC was quirky…
On closer inspection, this tent was actually a barn for…(look beyond it, to the right…)
Lucy, the miniature horse. Now that’s pet-friendly!
Adams Cut: cross section of coral foundation
Fossil-fuel burners among the fossils
Lots of property for sale as the sea level rises
Our tents among the RVs
Monthly rent around $2500 includes electricity and water
Jack, Rick and Alex (headlamp) do the dishes at RV campground
It is wonderful to do your laundry after days on the “road”
Picnic Key. The name says it all.
Sunny afternoon on Picnic Key
Another day, another dozen miles paddling from Key Largo to West. Of the things we learned here, this one was immediately obvious.
#4: The water is a gorgeous color. And so is everything else.
Photos above: Pelican’s eye view of Indian Key. Bill and Jack approach Long Key. Colorful character Hen. Storm clearing over Rock Harbor. Debra and unusual kayak storage. Arrival at Geiger Key to set up camp. Betsy takes a break near Indian Key. Angels over Curry Hammock State Park.
Green water, lavender sky
Jack and Rick
Popps Motel in Rock Harbor
Leaving Rock Harbor
Rick in a sunny moment
Colorful yaks at campsite
Tent platforms at Long Key State Park
Arriving at Sugarloaf Key
House in Key West
Part 1 is here. As well as the previous post in our Keys-y series. 🙂
Drawing perfect circles is a challenge for us—but not for nature. Pics from our kayaks (#1: July 4 raindrops in Piermont Marsh, NY) and Jorge’s (the rest: August 2015 Maine Kayak Regatta and our camp on Butter Island in Penobscot Bay, Maine.)
Late summer fun and homage to Kayak Hipster’s “Flipped-Over Fridays”… David tests his new Rockpool Isel (it’s marvelous from every angle) while Felix entertains the crowd at Cockenoe Island near Westport, CT. (Click for video)
More photos from the 8/8 Sea Kayak Connecticut tour (click for slideshow) 🙂