Would You Risk Your Life for Crab?
by Roy Witman © 2008
When we think of Alaskan king crabs, we
generally envision the formal dining room on the
luxurious Love Boat (Princess Cruises). Waiters
an elegant meal on china plates atop white linen
tablecloths adorned with flickering candles. But say
“Alaskan king crab” to a deep-sea fisherman and he'll
conjure up images of frigid cold days and frosty nights
aboard vessels being tossed about on the icy Bering
Sea. While you might not be willing to risk your life for
king crab, the crab fisher is!
The True Price of King Crab
Ever wonder why the price of Alaskan king crab is
so high? Because every season crab fishers literally
put their lives on the line to bring back king crab. With
subzero temperatures, life aboard ship is truly
and dangerous. The ocean spray freezes in midair.
Pots (giant wire baskets used for catching crab)
weighing over 700 pounds are pulled from the ocean
only to freeze within seconds. In addition, the sea is in
constant turmoil: tossing and turning the ship first to
one side and then the other. One miscalculation, one
slip of the foot, one seemingly minor accident and they
could quite easily be pulled overboard where they
would survive for only mere minutes.
How much is this life-threatening job worth? That
depends on the season. Most often, crab fishers and
the captain split the profits by a scale of percentages.
If the haul is excellent, fishermen could easily make
$80,000 or more per season, which lasts typically
October to January for golden and blue king crab. The
red king crab season lasts only four days! If the
season is poor, crab fishers might literally walk away
With a fatality rate of 60 times that of the average
worker in the United States, king crab fishers most
commonly fall victim to hypothermia and
Is It Worth It?
Why do it? The job does have several benefits.
For one, Alaskan red king crab is highly prized and
always in demand, so job security is fairly certain. In
addition, there is a great deal of money to be made in
a short time. Crab for anywhere from four days to
three months and then take the rest of the year off!
The adventure can't be beat because there's constant
action on the ships. And the scenery before and after
the tour is simply amazing!
The popularity of the Discovery Channel show
Deadliest Catch has helped increase demand for king
crab and for cruises to Alaska. Of course, Princess
Cruises and other lines won't make you work for your
dinner, but you can enjoy enormous king crab legs
aboard ship and at land-based lodges.
You may not get to see the frozen sea spray of
Bristol Bay, but you can walk across miles of frozen
ground, as you visit ice bridges, ice pools, penguins,
sea lions, puffins and other species. Glacier
exploration is a highly popular excursion thousands
participate in annually.
Part of the original gold rush, Alaska is also a
prime location for mining gold. Visit past and present
mines, and try your luck to see if you strike it rich!
The natural beauty and the food you'll remember
forever. In addition to luscious king crab, you'll also
find local wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Because of
distance, these are delicacies most people have
Whether you dream of an outrageous adventure
worthy of the crab fishers or you simply want to
explore a mysterious and wild wonderland, head for
Alaska for the time of your life!
Read more about Alaska Cruises.