Friday, May 06, 2011

Soft Shells

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'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:


  1. Anonymous6:09 AM

    We were going to buy some to bring home from the fish store during our visit last week. We were not sure how to clean them, any hints?

  2. Anonymous6:44 AM

    Soft shell crabs are delicious! Had my first in VA thanks to my husband's relatives near Suffolk.

    Re: Charles Temple.....Jeopardy.....AWESOME! Charles started out the gate with a bang and quickly took the lead; then, retreated to later surge ahead, leaving the other two contestants behind!!! Thrilling game!

    Now, he's a semi-finalist! Way to go!

    Loved seeing the video of the Ocracoke school and the kids yelling best wishes to their teacher, Mr. Temple. The dolphins were in plain view!

    Fun stuff!

  3. I have never fixed soft shell crabs myself (but plan to do so soon), though I order them in local restaurants. I will get complete instructions from Wayne and post them on this blog.

  4. Anonymous8:54 AM

    re---Way to Go Charles! Congradulations on becoming a Semi-Finalist for Jeopardy! You did awesome!

  5. First time I had one, I was pretty squiemish looking at it, but one bite and I got over that real quick. Folks Down East say they're "some good" - "good some" or "some good" either way, the message is clear!

  6. Anonymous1:05 PM

    When you guys think something is awesome you don't say "it is awesome some"- do you?

  7. debbie s.1:37 PM

    here we say 'them's some good eats!'

    but alas, a shellfish allergy acquired a few years back (4 to be exact), means all the shellfish of the world are safe from my digestive tract :(

    boy i miss my shimp...and crab...and conch...and...and...and...

  8. An O'cocker might say "awesome some" but the expression would be redundant some.

  9. Anonymous7:00 PM

    That was amusing some. Guess you are never too old to learn something stupid.