Friday, August 11, 2017

Off to the Races

Often times, at the Children's Museum, we will catch an absurd amount of crabs in our crab traps. Towards the beginning of the summer, it wouldn't be unusual to catch between 40 and 60 in a day! On days when our touch tank is full, it's really quite a sight to see; crabs scuttling over each other to avoid hands and fingers, crabs stacking themselves on top of each other in a Yertle the Turtle-like fashion, and crabs fighting with each other because well, that's what they do best.

One of our friends from the museum came out to race with us!
When I get to talking with parents, they'll often ask me about the crabs, where we got them, and what we're going to do with them. I'll explain that green crabs, the species we almost exclusively catch at the museum, are an invasive species from the Western coast of Europe and Baltic Sea area, and that we like to put them in the touch tank for kids to interact with and learn about what lives in Boston Harbor and, possibly, a little bit about invasive species.

I also like to explain to the parents that, other than touching and exploring with the crabs, we can use them for one of my favorite activities; crab racing. Rumored to be the City of Boston's Next Big Thing, crab racing is a competitive, crustaceous, and irresistibly fun way to get kids involved with our Big Bucket O' Crabs.

The premise is simple; we draw a large circle, which acts as an arena, and draw an X in the middle. Everyone picks out a crab, and carries it over to the circle. At the same time, everyone places their crab on the X and steps back, and then the race begins!

Green crabs, despite their feisty nature, are often quite shy when placed in front of a crowd. Sometimes they need some gentle encouragement to help them become the racing champions we all know they are inside. Poking, prodding, and uplifting sentiments are encouraged!

Eventually, one of the crabs will have a Hercules-moment and realize the hero it is inside, and will start moving outwards towards the finish line. This is when the action happens! In most cases, the other crabs will then be incited to race, and will also head over to the finish line. With baited breath, we wait and see whose crab crosses the line first. The winner is usually paraded on a victory tour, where members of the audience get to have a meet-and-greet with our speedy champion.

You heard about Boston's next big trend here first, folks!

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