Wednesday afternoon I was riding my bike around the village, and stopped to visit my old friend Wayne. He has an elaborate soft shell crab operation in his large outbuilding. It is quite impressive...with a dozen huge trays filled with recirculating and aerated seawater. Several hundred crabs were swimming about in the various trays as Wayne reached his gloved hand in to inspect them.
As soon as the "peelers" begin to shed he separates them to prevent the others from attacking and killing them. It is fascinating to watch the "busters" as they slowly emerge from their old hard shell. Finally, Wayne has what he is looking for...a soft shell crab. These he sells to local restaurants and residents.
As we chatted by the trays Wayne explained the life cycle of the blue crab...it's three year life span, mating, spawning, and travels from Ocracoke Inlet into the ocean, and back again. I wondered aloud how he had learned so much. Without missing a beat, Wayne shot back, "I played hooky a lot."
Consider ordering a soft shell crab sandwich on your next visit to a local restaurant. With the claws and paddles sticking out from between the bun, they look bizarre, but as O'cockers say, they're good some!
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Preservation Society. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042111.htm.