BEAUTIFUL SWIMMERS: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay by William W. Warner

BEAUTIFUL SWIMMERS: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay

Email this review


A richly informative, buoyantly entertaining tribute to the ways of the blue crabs (in both their soft- and hard-shell stages) of Chesapeake Bay and the watermen who remove 50 to 80 million pounds of them annually from Bay waters. The author has shipped out with a number of crabbers in their various vessels geared for potting, scraping, trotlining, and dredging the crustaceans. Amid the easy camaraderie of the crabbers at work Warner gives a running account of their highly skilled and complex maneuvers and discourses on a mass of related concerns--new processing and marketing methods, official regulative hurdles, wind and weather. But mostly it's about crabs: Jimmies (mature males), sooks (mature females), white signs (with two weeks to go until molting), pink signs (one week to go), etc. He outlines the animals' astonishing cycle of molting--seven to eight times in larval stages, and once the crabs have matured, eighteen to twenty-one times. Warner discusses their general physiology, migrations, the males' tiptoe courtship (literally), and mating, which he describes in dreamily anthropomorphic fashion--forgivable after those heady doses of salt air and waving grasses. The author writes with the pleased excitement of a happy man at one with his subject. Delectable.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1975
ISBN: 0316923354
Publisher: Atlantic/Little, Brown