After a month-long delay, crabs have arrived just in time for Christmas

Dungeness Crab Season Kicks Off With Tons of Plump Crustaceans
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Close-up of live dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister) in shipping container ready for market.

Commercial crab season has officially, finally kicked off in the Bay Area. Starting December 15, fisherman have been arriving at Fisherman’s Wharf with bountiful baskets of fresh crab heading to local markets and restaurants.

Crab season south of the Mendocino-Sonoma County had been delayed from its normal November start date after concerns for whales becoming entangled in fishermen’s nets. The California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group raised concerns for sea life, including sea turtles and migrating whales. In the meantime, recreational crab fishing has been underway since November 2.

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Local crabs are in today!!! #crab #dungenesscrab

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One upside to a month-long delay? Those crabs have had an extra month of undisturbed growth and are perfectly plump and ready for a bath in butter and garlic. Despite bad weather conditions, Bay Area captains were setting traps and navigating the rough seas starting at 12:01 a.m. on December 15. Fishermen began returning from the waters around the Farallon Islands with hundreds of pounds of feisty, wriggling crabs that are already making their way to restaurants like Scoma’s, Alioto’s, and Swan Oyster Depot.

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For the DIY crowd: Grocery stores like Bi-Rite, Whole Foods, and Mollie Stone’s sell steamed, cleaned, and cracked crabs by the pound if you’re not into cooking live crabs at home. Check out these excellent recipes for crab. And if you’re set on taking home some lively crustaceans, here’s how to cook live crabs.