Sound of Crabs
“There’s this sound it makes when it goes over the crabs. It’s different.” We laugh, loudly. She’s right though. They have this funny-looking contraption. It’s a rake, yet longer, maybe 2,5 meters and they attached a sheet of chicken wire to it. And when you pull it over the bottom of the ocean—we’re drifting near a small island in northern Norway—it makes a sound. There’s no actual sound coming up out of the water, but you feel it. And when the ‘Rake 2.0’ hits a crab, the ‘sound’ changes.
Ina removing a crab from the rake
We’re here fishing for the crabs if that’s the right way to put it. We use the contraption to scoop the animals out. The rake-part is used to wedge them out of their hiding place and the chicken wire makes sure they stay on when you hoist them up. It’s a tricky process and more often than not the crabs fall off and you have to try and catch them. Well, we do. Ina Kristine doesn’t. She’s a friggin’ natural.
As the clock is about to strike twelve we head out to the harbor. Not in pitch black darkness, they don’t have that here in summer. No, it’s light outside. The type of light we get when we’re sitting outside after a long summer day and the first people go inside to get something warmer to wear. That’s the light they have here during the night. They call it Midnattsol, the midnight sun. But the sun has long gone, crept behind some mountains and it took any heat with it. So we dressed accordingly, jackets all zipped up to the top.
The boat they have is small but sturdy. It can easily hold the five of us. There are Ellis and me and then there’s Øystein, Oda Johanne and crab enthusiast Ina Kristine; a father with his two daughters. We’re staying at the YWAM-base where Øystein is the leader and his daughters came over for the weekend. The boat belongs to the base so while Øystein is starting the engine he’s telling us how it works if we’d ever want to take it out on our own. I don’t take we will.
Five minutes later we’re out on a very Norwegian looking fjord. It’s officially the sea, but there are so many islands around that you wouldn’t say so. The view is absolutely amazing with all the mountains and the clouds rolling in. The journey takes longer than I thought it would, but that’s because the mountains never seem to change size until your almost on top of them. It’s a weird trick that makes it hard to calculate any distance. And then all of a sudden, we’re there.
“And now we look for crabs, they’re red,” Ina tells us
“You mean, fire engine red?” I ask, bewildered. She laughs: “No, more the coppery kind.”
With the engine turned off Øystein paddles us along a rocky coastline. The rocks stick out sharply from the sea. The water is so clear that you can look maybe 2 meters down. That’s where we’re told to look. I look. I look some more. I don’t have a clue what I’m looking for. No visual cue card got saved in my mind yet with an image of a crab below the sea surface. Then, all of a sudden, I see this…shape. It’s not a part of the rocks, it’s too different. It’s indeed this coppery brown color and it has legs sticking out. “I see one!” Ina is on top of it before I get the words out: “Where?” I point and the rake goes in like lightning. Some seconds of wrestling later the crab comes out. Oda picks it off with her hands. This is the part that baffles me. You can pick those with your hands? “You just have to be careful where you grab it,” Oda laughs.
Now, I don’t know if this is a good night for crab fishing, but we catch a lot of them. So many that we lost count. So many that we didn’t bring enough buckets and that’s a problem. Because you can understand that these creatures, they’re not happy about it. So when they end up in a bucket, they’re spooked and they just go for it with their pinchers. Clawing whatever they find, including each other. So we end up with crabs mauling crabs, so Oda has to come in and play police officer. At the height of the night, she’s holding up 5 crabs at the same time, talking to them to be calm. It’s a wonderful sight.
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