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My Shelter Island adventure: Catch and release crabs

Credit: Kidsday staff artist / Isabella Niola, Old Westbury

I was at Shelter Island, where my grandparents own a house. They were at the beach across from us so my mom and sister paddleboarded there. My dad and I swam there.

Once we got to their beach, my mom’s friend’s son, Jackson, asked if I wanted to go crabbing. He was grabbing buckets and nets, so I went along and followed him. The tide was perfect. You could just see your feet sinking, bubbling and wiggling in the mud.

Jackson shushed us all. He pointed at some bubbles and mist moving under the dark deep water. “Swoosh!” “Crack.” “Yea!” Jackson had just caught a huge crab. We dropped it in the bucket. It pinched me, but I put the bucket down.

After a while, I got the hang of it and sneaked up and snatched a huge blue-clawed crab. After some catches and fails, we decided to make our way back. Along the way, I got knee deep in mud. While Jackson and I were rounding the corner to our parents, there were tons of little crabs and if you lifted your foot over them to walk, they made a perfect shape around your foot’s shadow.

We were lifting our feet over more crabs when one with a huge yellow claw wouldn’t move. I thought back to what one of the other kids told me: “On those little guys, the big yellow claws are males, and they are vicious!” I wasn’t too scared, so I tried to pick it up.

Bad idea. It pinched my hand so hard! I was surprised to find something that small can hurt so much.

When we got back to the beach, Jackson said I could keep them to eat for lunch. When we got back to my grandparents, my Mima said we can’t de-shell them and that she was grossed out by them. I let them back into the water and ended up eating grilled cheese. Next time I go there, that’s one major to-do!

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