Gory Start to Crab Season

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Crab season has started, but the scuttling decapods apparently aren't willing to go down without a fight.

The catch turned deadly for the human participants this week when a fishing vessel capsized near Bodega Bay. The fishing line became tangled in a propeller, tossing five people into the freezing water. Several were treated for hypothermia, and a 71-year-old man died. None of the victims were wearing life jackets.

Conditions were rough at the time. Winds were reaching 30 mph and the water temperature was in the mid-50s.

It's the second awful incident in the area this season. Just a few days ago, a fisherman lost the tips of his fingers when his hand was caught in a crab block. Crab blocks are parts of the system that hoists crabs out of the water and into the boats. The victim was in his late 40s.

The setbacks have been numerous this year. Aside from the loss of life and limb, the season was delayed by late maturation. Fisherman had to wait a little longer before the crabs aged enough for a harvest.

Nevertheless, some industry experts say that the season has been strong so far. Previous years' catches have been light.

San Francisco's crab industry usually nets about 1,500 tons of crab meat in a year.  Illegal poachers are estimated to have hauled in 350,000 crabs last year.

If you'd like to get some of your own, you don't need to look far. Crabbers sell to local markets like Molly Stone's, Andronico's and Tower Market, as well as the big chains like Safeway, Lucky, and Costco

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