Next to rockpooling, crabbing is one of my favourite seaside activities. The anticipation of what you might catch always lures me in. And sitting for a few hours with your legs dangling over the side of the harbour looking at the sea is a pretty fabulous thing to do!
A Big Bucket (filled with seawater and a bit of seaweed)
A Crab Line
Bait (this can be bits of bacon, cheese or fish)
A Fishing Net
A Reliable Grownup
One of the best places in St Ives to go crabbing is off the old pier wall behind Smeaton’s Pier. There are lots of crabs lurking there just waiting for your bait.
Warning: watch out for hide tides and seals! Please stay away from both of these, we don’t want anyone to fall in or get hurt. Also, please hide your bait from pesky seagulls. They will be only too happy to have a free lunch of bacon, cheese and fish!
Tie a little piece of your bait to the end of your crab line. Lower it carefully into the water and hold your crab line firmly. When a crab bites your bait you should be able to feel it tugging.
When you feel a bit of a tug, start pulling in your crab line slowly and smoothly. Once you can see the crab near the surface of the water, scoop it up with your fishing net.
To pick up a crab, hold it very carefully (sort of firmly but gently) either side of the shell behind the pincers. This means you won’t get nipped!
Pop your crab into your bucket to have a look at.
Make sure your crab bucket isn’t in the direct sunlight. If it is the water may get too hold for the crabs in there – we don’t want them to be uncomfortable or get ill and die!
Please don’t put too many crabs into your bucket at once or have little ones and big ones together. The big ones can start fighting the little ones which quite frankly isn’t very nice!
Once you have had a good old look at your crabs, tip them back into the water. Don’t keep them in the bucket for too long. If you are spending the afternoon crabbing, keep on changing the seawater. This will keep it cool and fresh for the next crabs you catch.
Question: Why do you think crabs walk sideways?
Answer: Because that’s the way their legs bend. This lets them squeeze into holes and crevices to keep out of the way of fish with sharp teeth and larger crabs that might think the crab was a tasty meal.
All crabs have 10 legs.
2 of their legs develop into very big, powerful claws. They use these 2 for grasping food and fighting (these are the ones you need to avoid!)
Crabs are pretty grumpy creatures – they fight with each other a lot and will always try to eat another crabs lunch. This is possibly where the phrase “crabby” comes from!
Crabs often lose one of their big claws when fighting each other. This claw can re-grow!
Crabs have two eyes perched on stalks that stick out from the hard shell, and a pair of small feelers between them.
The shell of the crab is known as an exoskeleton. This does not get bigger as the crab grows. The crab has to moult the shell and grow another new, bigger one. At the same time as growing a new shell, it can grow back a missing claw!
If you find a crab shell at the beach this is usually a moulted shell, rather than a dead crab.
Velvet Swimming Crab
Have you been crabbing in St Ives Cornwall? Can you share some tips with us?
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