‘Deadliest Catch’: Here’s How Crab Pots Work

by Amy Myers
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Crabbing on the Bering Sea is not for the faint of heart. If the icy waters and bone-chilling winds don’t get you, the unforgiving machinery will. Deadliest Catch crew members have all witnessed the danger that comes with handling the humongous and heavy crab pots. Not to mention the cables that help pull these monstrous cages from the water which on the high seas can whip a deckhand right off the side of the ship.

In their years of experience, the Deadliest Catch stars have learned to be alert at all times while on deck. If they let their minds wander for even a second, they could lose a finger, an extremity or even their lives. Another vital part of their safety while on the Bering Sea is learning how each piece of equipment works. This includes, of course, the most important piece of gear – the crab pots.

Weighing in at 750 pounds, the pots that the Deadliest Catch crews use are made of inch-and-a-half steel bars. This calculation doesn’t even include the weight of the buoys and the hundreds of feet of rope attached to the pots, so the total may very well be closer to a half-ton.

Late and great Deadliest Catch star Phil Harris, the father of Josh Harris, once demonstrated exactly how these vital pieces of equipment work and broke down each component. Learn the workings of a crab pot in the clip below.

‘Deadliest Catch’ Star Demonstrates King Crab Configuration of Crab Pots

Back when Harris was the captain of the Cornelia Marie, he dominated the waters off the coast of Alaska. So, if there was anyone to teach the workings of a crab boat, it was him. In the Deadliest Catch star’s past video, he explained that the components and configuration of a crab pot vary depending on the season. The setup that he had was for king crabs.

In between the strands of rope, there was a nine-inch by 36-inch opening, just big enough for a king crab to fit through. During the snow crab season, the crew is able to condense the opening with a hinged mechanism that would only allow the smaller crab species to squeeze through. Should the Deadliest Catch crew lose a crab pot in the water, there is a part of the mesh lining that deteriorates with time, allowing the crabs to escape.

Another vital part of the contraption is the buoy bag. Each buoy and crab pot a number that helps fishermen determine which crab pots belong to them. Crab pots must also have an official tag from the state’s fishing and wildlife department to prevent overfishing. Without it, a game warden can seize the equipment and leave the Deadliest Catch vessel with a hefty fine.

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