In Photos: The Bay Area's Dungeness Crab Trade

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For this week's feature story, Shell-Shocked, photographer Bert Johnson followed the path of the Bay Area's favorite crustacean from the rough sea near Half Moon Bay, to working docks along San Francisco's Embarcadero, and finally to the kitchen of Camino, in Oakland's Grand Lake district. The hardest part was deciding which photos to print. Since there were so many to choose from, here are some of the outtakes.
The cold coastal waters of Northern California pose a challenge during crab season, which brings rough weather to the region.
  • The cold coastal waters of Northern California pose a challenge during crab season, which brings rough weather to the region.
On days when swells are high, fewer fishermen go out to check their crab pots.
  • On days when swells are high, fewer fishermen go out to check their crab pots.
If bad weather persists, the biodegradable ropes that hold a pot closed will disintegrate, allowing the catch to escape.
  • If bad weather persists, the biodegradable ropes that hold a pot closed will disintegrate, allowing the catch to escape.
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Alley's boat, the Ronna Lynn, is much smaller than most commercial fishing craft.
  • Alley's boat, the Ronna Lynn, is much smaller than most commercial fishing craft.
Marc Alley, a veteran crab fisherman.
  • Marc Alley, a veteran crab fisherman.
Wholesale facilities, like this one owned by Monterey Market at Pier 33, have large seawater tanks for crab storage. Each of these can hold 1,000 pounds of crab and there are three onsite.
  • Wholesale facilities, like this one owned by Monterey Market at Pier 33, have large seawater tanks for crab storage. Each of these can hold 1,000 pounds of crab and there are three onsite.
San Francisco's Pier 45, located next to Fishermen's Wharf, is still an important stop for commercial crab vessels like this one.
  • San Francisco's Pier 45, located next to Fishermen's Wharf, is still an important stop for commercial crab vessels like this one.
Alley says the advantage of his boat's size is increased speed and maneuverability, which allows him to fish in worse weather than larger boats. Here, his deckhand watches for buoys that mark the location of pots.
  • Alley says the advantage of his boat's size is increased speed and maneuverability, which allows him to fish in worse weather than larger boats. Here, his deckhand watches for buoys that mark the location of pots.
Local restaurants that specialize in Dungeness crab prepare the delicacy in a variety of ways. At Camino, they are seasoned and roasted over coals.
  • Local restaurants that specialize in Dungeness crab prepare the delicacy in a variety of ways. At Camino, they are seasoned and roasted over coals.
Dungeness crab's popularity is justly deserved, but its fame comes at the price of artificially limited availability.
  • Dungeness crab's popularity is justly deserved, but its fame comes at the price of artificially limited availability.

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