A red rock crab (Cancer productus) hunts for mussels on a piling.
Yesterday, my buddy Erin and I visited the fuel dock at Mukilteo, also known as the tank farm. It is about a 400 meter surface swim east of the T-dock and is one of the best places to dive for Dungeness crab in all of Puget Sound. It is also a very interesting site with tons of fish and invertebrate life, and is far more interesting than the T-dock as far as I’m concerned. Max depth for most of the site is about 18 meters. I have yet to explore all of the site, but hopefully I will be able to get out to the far end of the pier before it gets torn down later this year. The Port of Everett hopes to demolish the pier soon and put in a new ferry terminal. It’s too bad that this interesting and diverse aquatic community is about to be obliterated, and there are a lot of local divers who are very upset about loosing their favorite crabbing grounds.
Below is some footage I shot of the site yesterday afternoon, and I made it into my first “virtual dive”. You can see why this site is so unique – there are literally carpets of Dungeness crab here in the summer by the time crab season opens. They likely favor this location because it is built on their preferred sandy/silty sediment, and the huge clumps of blue mussels growing on the pilings are an important food source. I have also seen huge groups of spotted ratfish here on occasion, but we had no such luck during this dive.
This afternoon, Matt and I decided to grab some crabs at the oil dock at Mukilteo. The end of crab season approaches, so we want to get in as many dives as possible. We arrived at the T-dock at about an hour after low tide and walked north along the rocky beach toward the oil dock. Visibility was mediocre to poor today, at about 10 feet. We chose to explore the middle third of the dock this time and stayed between about 30-45 feet throughout the dive. There were some very large Dungeness and red rock crab out there still – we got two 7 1/2 inchers this dive. There were not many fish out there this time of year, just the usual quillback rockfish, painted greenlings, and pile perch. Overall, we had a decent haul – 4 large dungies and 4 red rocks.
Needless to say, Christmas Eve dinner was awesome. We were looking for some different recipes for crab, and decided to try this one out. It was fantastic – the crab and basil definitely go well together!
I decided to do another leisurely dive at Mukilteo yesterday and returned with even more crab. Since I’ve been landing so much lately, I’ve had the chance to perfect my crab cake recipe, which I’ve decided to share with you today. This one is simple, has the perfect consistency, and holds together fairly well. They’re also Matt tested and approved. Enjoy!
1 lb fresh crab meat
20 saltine crackers, finely crushed
1/2 cup mayo
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup fresh parsley
2 Tbs butter
Combine crackers, mayo, pepper, salt, and parsley. Fold in crab meat. Melt butter in a large skillet. Form mixture into patties and sauté in butter until golden brown on each side. Serve with tarter sauce.