16 May 2007

Jamaican Crab Festival

Dear Blue Lobster:

I'm going to Jamaica this week for this crab festival thing my friend has gone to before. do you know what it's all about? i want to get stupid drunk and eat crab all week.


Dear Gentle Sir:

It's that time of year, in the Ides of May, when local populations in Jamaica gather to celebrated the natural wonder of the mangrove crab's fantastic journey to the sea during the breeding season.

Mangrove crabs are the many species that inhabit forests and swamps near ocean shores. In Jamaica, this means about thirteen species from three different families. The crabs range from grey to green to red, and some have adapted color or shell patterns to match tree bark, leaves, and even fruit.

In the Spring, the crabs molt into their breeding phase which is often marked by bright color patterns or additional spikes or mottling of their shell. One species even grows an additional set of foreclaws during this time.

After their molt, the crabs begin migrating from their mangrove home to the beach, where they will congregate and mate for a period of only seventy-two hours.

During their migration, the crabs walk overland, covering the surface with the clattering of their chitinous legs. During pre-Columbian times, the native Carib tribe held fertility rites. Today, commerce and business stop for the three days of crab travel and the locals take part in helping the animals toward the sea.

Jamaicans consider it bad luck to kill or harm a crab during this period and contests are held to see which child can collect the most trapped or endangered crabs and do not eat any seafood during the week in observance of this holiday.

Harming or molesting crabs during this time is considered a criminal offense, so Americans traveling to Jamaica are advised to follow the letter of the law. Sorry, but eating crab during your vacation seems like a bad idea.

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