May River Fresh

by | Apr 7, 2007

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.