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Alaska

See the Rugged Life of a Fisherman Aboard the Aleutian Ballad

Commercial fishing remains one of the most dangerous professions in the world due to a variety of factors including but not limited to unpredictable conditions, isolation, and the use of heavy machinery on an unstable surface. King crab fishing is no exception to this danger that only becomes compounded by higher pressure for a catch during a shorter fishing season and the frigid conditions the workers must endure. Although the high fatality rate and almost certain risk of injury are more than enough to dissuade even the hardiest of workers, the king crab fisherman of Alaska take great pride in their work and wear the dangers as a badge of honor.

Like many aspects in the large web of the food chain, the lives and the dangers associated with crab fishing were largely undocumented and unknown to the general public. That is until the breakthrough reality program “Deadliest Catch” premiered on the Discovery Channel in 2005 where it continues to reel watchers into the lives of the workers who make the enjoyment of one of the world’s most popular delicacies possible. What separates Alaskan crab fishing from other types of commercial fishing isn’t just the dangers associated with the profession but the very species they catch. Alaskan king crabs are a shy species of crustaceans that only live in the rocky frigid waters of the northern Pacific. Forty unique species of Alaskan king crab have been documented but only three types are fished commercially during a short fall season. Almost all fishermen in the industry work under contract and assume a high risk but high reward agreement where they work for very little or no direct pay in return for a more even split of the catch once brought to shore. Each crab species that is fished by one of these vessels can yield a greater bounty depending on the species and the size of the catch.

By far the most popular species of crab caught and the most widely consumed is the Alaskan red king crab. Their meat is prized for its sweet taste and is most easily recognized for its coarse shell texture and an equal leg-to-body ratio. Although the red king crab is the most widely fished and the most consumed, the demand is so great for them that their meat often fetches the highest price per pound. The blue king crab is found in shallower waters than its red counterpart and is known for its beautiful blue shell and more savory taste. Even though this crab isn’t as sought after as its red counterpart, many still enjoy its more subtle flavor and softer shell that turns a reddish color once fully cooked. The golden or brown king crab is by far the most common and widely distributed of all the species being found as far south as Japan. The golden king’s meat isn’t as prized as the other two species but is by far the most affordable and would be right at home beside other dishes at any important feast.

Alaska is seen by many as one of the last truly wild places left to explore in the world and this reputation and proximity to the ocean make it a truly incomparable place to take your next vacation. If you decide to join us on our CEC CME Alaskan tour this year you’ll be able to see plenty of raw pristine wilderness that you can never fully capture even with the best camera lens. You’ll certainly be spoiled for choice at the number of excursions on offer at each stop but if you’re indecisive or are looking to make that perfect vacation memory consider booking a tour aboard the Aleutian Ballad.

This ship was made famous for its tenure on the “Deadliest Catch” television program and is perhaps best known for flipping on its side when a rogue wave toppled it over in season two. You don’t have to be a fan or even watch the show to enjoy this tour’s remarkable journey and award-winning customer service. The Bearing Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour takes you aboard the actual ship used in the show that has been retrofitted with protective theater seating and a live tank to view wildlife the guides catch along your journey. Although the Aleutian Ballad has survived countless battles out at sea you don’t have to worry about any rogue waves on your tour. The ship’s pilot takes you along a still stretch of water through the Alaskan wilderness. Along the way, your guides will tell you the history of crab fishing and the state of the industry today. You’ll also get to learn about the unique wildlife that calls Alaska home. You’ll make several stops along your journey where guides will dredge up crab traps from the depths and spill their contents out into the live tank. You’ll certainly be able to see and touch real Alaskan king crabs before they’re returned safely to the wild. If you’re lucky sometimes the traps catch other wildlife by mistake including shrimps, sharks, and even the odd octopus. Aboard the Aleutian Ballad, there’s certainly plenty of things to see and explore so don’t forget your camera or forget to book your tour when the ship docks at Ketchikan.


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