In this current culinary climate where we care so deeply about where our victuals come from and whether they were massaged, mollycoddled, or manhandled before becoming this week’s blue plate special, it behooves all of us to switch on the Discovery Channel at this time of year.
Not so much about how the tasty sea insects are treated and more about what the fishermen go through to get those flaming red legs of king crab to a cruise buffet or Red Lobster near you, Discovery’s television show Deadliest Catch follows the trials, tribulations, and deaths surrounding the men who put their very lives on the line to fish in the fatally frigid waters of the Alaskan Bering Strait.
Here are some fascinatingly crabby facts from Discovery’s website:
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the red king crab fishery is Alaska’s top shellfish fishery.
Since 1959, when Alaska became a state, nearly 2 billion pounds of red king crab worth $1.6 billion have been harvested from Alaska’s waters, making red king crabs the second most valuable species to fishers during this period (red salmon being the most valuable).
Crab quotas vary each year, depending on population size. In 2004, the harvest was 15.4 million pounds of red king crab, 5.7 million pounds of golden king crab and 20.4 million pounds of snow crab.
At $4.70 per pound, the 2004 catch of red king crab was worth $65.8 million at the dock.
As insanely addictive as crabmeat soaked in pure drawn butter, Deadliest Catch casts off its newest season in April, but you can catch up on past seasons and learn all about the various hard and frostbitten crews every day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. EST/PST. From the greenhorns to the deckhands to the captains, nearly all the fishermen are characters, but Captain Sig Hansen is the craggiest sea salt out there—both in mind and body—and you can’t help but hang on his every hardened word.
I don’t go in for maudlinness on a regular basis, but after watching this show, any time I eat king crab, I think of the men who died to bring it to me.