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Crabby Catch Pleases Dungeness Afficionadoes

The first catch of the 2017 Oregon Dungeness crab season has arrived in Eugene.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, it’s a welcome sight for seafood proprietors and customers alike.

A heavy tote containing about 400 crabs is dropped off at Fisherman’s Market in Eugene.  Owner Ryan Rogers greets them…with a large kettle of boiling water.

“No squeals,” laughs Rogers, dropping one crustacean after another into the hot vessel.

Credit Hugh Link / Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission
Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission
A loaded crabbing boat headed back inland from the Oregon Coast.

A few minutes in the kettle turns the purple Dungeness crabs orange.  Rogers says between early concerns over domoic acid levels and a fisherman’s strike, the crabbing season started six weeks later than usual.

“The good news about the delayed season, is that the crab are bigger and fuller than ever before.” 

Nearby, customers Scott Herman and Jennifer Bowden are intrigued.

“I was going to get fish tacos, why I didn’t even know that there were crabs today. Maybe I’ll think about that,” says Herman. 

“Yes…with a mallet and lots of garlic butter,” laughs Bowden.

After 45 minutes…from bin to boiler to chill tank…Rogers is finally ready to sample the crab meat.

“So I gotta take a taste of one of the legs, make sure it’s up to quality," he explains, before biting into the appendage with an audible crunch.

"Oh, so sweet…” sighs Rogers.

Rogers hopes to sell out all 800-lb. worth of Dungeness by Thursday night, with more crabs from the Newport area expected Friday.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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