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Crab

At one time we had a huge tank of salt water in which we used to keep some huge crabs alive, in the dining room of our old hotel. They were fascinating to watch -especially at feeding time, when they really used to have stand-up fights over the fresh green prawns. It wasn't a selection tank, though it was large enough for it. It was just for the customers to see, and the children were always amused by it. It was a lot of work keeping the water clear and bringing up salt water from the Bay, so eventually we put the crabs in buckets and took them down to the water's edge at Watson's Bay under the wharf, where they remained for a few days, and then they probably went out to sea with the tides to regain their strength. They were like your old pet duck or "chook" to us; we could never have eaten them or served them to anyone else. Later on we used the big tank at our Wharf Restaurant at Watson's Bay, where it held an assortment of local fish. The children who fished down the wharf, including all our children, would come and "sell" the tiddlers to us for the tank ... it was fun.

I've had lots of fun with live crabs in my time, although when we have the mud crabs brought down from Queensland they are transported and securely tied with rope. Some of them weigh up to 2.5 kg (5 lb), and being very much alive, you can just imagine the "nip" they can give you (1 mean the full measure, not half a "nip"). Once, years ago, 1 had some smaller ones in the restaurant, and my young son undid the string and, much to the amazement and surprise of the customers, and my horror, let them go, to roam around where they pleased. You can imagine the laughter -and the time 1 had catching them.


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