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How to Keep Blue Crabs Alive





If you are not able to cook all the crabs you catch when you go crabbing, don't worry, blue crabs can stay alive for days as long as they are kept in the proper environment. The first step to keeping the crabs alive is to be sure you keep them cool and wet while on the boat. Be mindful of keeping them out of the sun if possible. Use the lid of your bushel basket if you do not have a cover on your boat. I recommend a wooden bushel basket and a burlap sack to keep the crabs in the ideal environment. Before you begin crabbing, dip the bushel basket and lid in the water. The wooden bushel basket will retain the moisture for a while after. Also, you can pour some water over the crabs and soak the burlap sack in water throughout the day and keep it on top of the crabs to keep them cool, calm, shaded and happy.

When you get the crabs home,
never keep the crabs submerged in water or they will die. As crazy as this sounds, crabs will not survive in a bucket of water. Crabs breathe air and if they are kept in a bucket, cooler, or anything else where they are submerged, the crabs will take up all the oxygen in the water and die. The only safe place to keep them in water is in a holding cage in the body of water where they were caught, attached to a pier or the side of your boat.



At home, you'll want to keep the crabs in an environment where the temperature is around 48-58 degrees. A good place would be outside in the shade if it is a cool night, or in the lower level of your house. You can leave the crabs in the bushel baskets with wet burlap on top of the baskets. If you don't have a burlap sack on hand, many crabbers use wet newspaper to keep the crabs cool. You want to maintain a dark, cool and moist environment to keep the crabs alive. Just keep in mind that the crabs need air too. Do not put them in a sealed container or a cooler with the lid shut. You can keep the crabs in a cooler, just remember to keep the lid cracked open so they can get air. Also a sealed bag of ice on top or on the bottom of the crabs will help keep them cool. If you do this, be sure to keep the cooler tilted and the drain open so the water can run out.

You could also keep live crabs in a refrigerator or walk-in box if you have one available. If you do this, you have to make adjustments to the temperature and moisture level of the fridge. Crabs need air and moisture to survive. If all the air and moisture is completely taken out of the fridge you will lose some crabs. In this type of environment, typically the smaller crabs will live longer while some of the bigger crabs won't make it.






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