Crab sex on the DC Wharf

One of the first places I got to see in Washington DC during my visit last year was the Wharf on Maine. I’d left all my gear back at the apartment I was staying in, because I was helping my friend run a few errands before the 4th of July fireworks and wasn’t expecting to do any sightseeing, but when we whipped round into the waterfront fish market, I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera. Instead, I nabbed my friend’s camera phone and snapped a few shots of this fascinating place.

The market was teeming with people buying last minute goodies for their Independence Day barbeques, and the air was distinctly pungent. The Maine Avenue Fish Market, commonly referred to as ‘The Wharf’, is over 200 years old and one of the few extant open-air seafood markets on the eastern seaboard. It feels like a carnival and is a foodie destination extraordinaire. I don’t know how many tourists make it out this way, but it’s not far from the Waterfront Metro station and is definitely worth a visit.

There were stacks of shells piled high, fish neatly arranged over shaved ice and some of the largest shrimp I have ever seen.

wharf washington dc fish market

The octopus scared me a little

wharf washington dc fish market

wharf washington dc fish market

Mammoth shrimp and fresh lobster

But what I found truly eye-catching were the Maryland Blue Crabs. There were piles of them for sale, steamed and ready to snack on, and live ones in baskets which people would wheel around the corner and get them freshly steamed. Staring at the baskets, which were basking in the 105 degree sunshine, I had to fight the urge to open the lids and give the crabs a chance to dash for the water.

wharf washington dc fish market

Run free, little crabs!

My friend also gave me a DC education in blue crab gender recognition. She showed me the underside of the crabs and explained that the ones that resembled the Capitol building were female, and the ones that resembled the Washington Monument were male.

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You live and learn!

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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21 Responses to Crab sex on the DC Wharf

  1. This looks so good and enticing. I tried to watch this crab sex thing on YouTube but my parental controls were blocking me. I guess since I’m not where you are, I’ll have to try Red Lobster.

  2. That is hilarious and so educational! Thanks for the crab education. Also: my mouth is watering.

    • ailsapm says:

      Glad you enjoyed my little trip down to the Wharf, wanderlusttalesfromabucketlist! Definitely add it to your bucket list if you’re in the DC area. xxx Ailsa

  3. ayuavenue says:

    oh my… the shrimp! Seafood heaven. Thanks for sharing this

  4. samokan says:

    It looks so good , octopus for takoyaki 🙂

  5. Debbie says:

    Food heaven in a post, and educational too. Thanks Ailsa

  6. I love your illustration of crab sex, and all that seafood is making me hungry, it looks like a wonderful place for a seafood lover 🙂

  7. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I would want to set them free too! I love the gender identification 🙂

  8. Praveena says:

    Octopus is a bit scary !!!!Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. The Rider says:

    Wish I could go there! Eating lobster is still on my Bucket List, never had the chance yet…

  10. Amy says:

    Wharf on Maine is on my Bucket list!! Crab sex is so hilarious 😀

  11. We used to as kids catch them on string with a little old chicken (that we got from the grocer), just down by the water (I’m from MD). No longer. The ones in your picture are so small compared to what we used to catch. It’s sad what’s become of the Bay.

  12. Doesn’t it always figure that when you DON’T bring your camera you could have really used it?

  13. I’m going to have to check out this place now that I’m home, Ailsa! I learned something new about the male and female crabs; and I’ve been eating crabs my whole life. 🙂

  14. Tina Schell says:

    LOL Ailsa! Love the post and the crab sex explanation!

  15. Maryland crabs steamed in Old Bay are the best!
    Thank you, that is all, I will get off my soapbox now.

  16. I’m sure everyone who read this will always remember how to “sex” a crab. And I’ll bet that many of us will be looking for crabs to check out! Looking at all this seafood makes me REALLY hungry!

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