April 7, 2007

May River Fresh

photo by Kristin Goode

In yesterday’s paper, David Lauderdale of The Island Packet dropped in on softshell crab season at the Bluffton Oyster Factory. Lauderdale is a seasoned reporter who cares for the subjects he covers and the real life impact his work can have. Thus, he carefully introduces a native species to the human population.

We’re lucky to still have white bellies, red liners, busters and jack ups around here.

They rake around in brackish Lowcountry waters, performing a springtime ritual not visible from the hill, where all the new neighborhoods are starting to spit tainted runoff into the wetlands.

At this time of year — usually around Easter — the white bellies on female blue crabs start showing red lines. That means they’re about to molt — “bust” their hard shells, jack them up and then pull themselves out of their safe, crusty shells, eyeballs and all.

For a few hours their dull gray shell is soft like sponge, their orange snapping claws limp as noodles. If pulled from the water at the right moment, they’re a delicacy sought the world over.

Note how Lauderdale introduces the whole web of life and personal responsibility message in his second paragraph. He’s a pro.

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Lowcountry, The Environment