Here, above the Arctic Circle, the town of Kirkenes is situated on the coast of the Barents Sea. You may stay in a SnowHotel, rebuilt each year from snow and ice, and featuring SnowSuites where you sleep on mattresses on top of iceblocks, snug and warm in a sleeping bag. Activities include a visit to the nearby Gabba Reindeer Park and dogsledding or snowshoeing excursions through the Arctic landscape – and of course, the king crab safari. It takes you by snowmobile to the frozen fjord where holes are drilled into the ice and scuba divers dive to the seafloor to catch giant crabs.
The crab claws are very strong and you should treat the giant with respect when you dive into the deep sea to catch it for dinner. The easiest way to sneak up on the king crab is to approach it form behind and grab the crab’s rear legs,” Øie says. “The King crab is not a small fellow, but powerful in both taste and size.”
In frigid waters the giant crustaceans can grow up to six feet wide and weigh up to 30 pounds. Since 1960, when Soviet scientists first introduced the species to the Barents Sea near the Norwegian border, millions of them
have migrated west. The crabs have few natural enemies, and environmentalists have grown anxious over their rapid spread, advocating for higher fishing quotas to help control numbers.
Given the king’s status as a prized shellfish, crab safaris have become the latest craving for gourmet eco-adventurers. Certified scuba divers can join the pros as they plunge to the seafloor and catch lunch; back in the warmth of a cozy restaurant, the kings are served, along with a lecture and presentation by Øie, a crab specialist. “King crab meat is one of the most savory meals to be found in the sea. It has attracted guests from all over the world who wish to catch the delicacy for themselves and enjoy it in the freshest possible way,” Øie says.
Preparing King Crab
- The Crab is carved/cleaned fresh from the sea. Put the crab legs into boiling seawater, boil the crab and let simmer for a few minutes. (Store-bought crab is usually cooked). Serve with simple side dishes such as garlic dressing, avocado dressing, white bread, lemon and lemon pepper.
- Garlic dressing can be made from equal parts of mayonnaise and sour cream. Add garlic and leeks to taste.
- Avocado dressing is made by blending crab meat with fresh avocados in a food processor. Mix until smooth. Add lemon, salt and pepper to taste.