TitleLate-Holocene Dungeness crab (Cancer magister) harvest at an Oregon coast estuary
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsLosey, RJ, Yamada, SB, Largaespada, L
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Coastal peoples worldwide harvested and consumed a wide variety of shellfish. Most archaeological analyses of shellfish remains tend to focus on bivalves such as clams and mussels while other shellfish such as gastropods, barnacles, and crabs have received much less attention. Here we examine the use of Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister) at a late-Holocene village on Netarts Bay, northern Oregon Coast. Ethnographic and ethnohistoric records suggest that crabs were both individually hunted as well as gathered, often en masse. We employ allometric scaling of Dungeness claws (propal fingers) recovered from several household middens to estimate crab body size and age. These data indicate that while a wide age range of crabs were collected, most harvesting efforts focused on juveniles and young adults. This suggests that most Dungeness crabs at the site were gathered (not individually hunted) in Netarts Bay, most likely in shallow subtidal areas where cockles (Clinocardium nuttalli) were also being regularly taken. As such, Dungeness crabs were part of a foraging strategy that involved the efficient mass harvest of small prey using minimal technology. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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