It is clearly evident that one of absolutes throughout the entire processing of LAL is a constant attention to sterility and disinfecting. Denise informs me that the biggest part of the day is devoted to disinfecting everything – machines, gloves, working surfaces, bottles, crabs – everything is cleaned or disinfected on a constant and regular basis. Even gloved hands are sprayed with disinfectant so as to not introduce any bacteria.We leave the processing room and pass through the crab holding room in the front of the building. The crabs bled today are stacked in large holding bins and will be transported back to the ocean later in the afternoon. This is also a receiving area for arriving crabs – all of which are brought in big blue tubs every day. All of the crabs are rinsed thoroughly with well water; the rinsing is just to get the loose debris off and every effort is taken to not injure the crabs.
We pass back into the bleeding area, and as we observe the blood collection process again, this time from the back side of the bleeding room, I ask Denise about the ratio of male to female crabs during the bleeding process. “The number of males and females is reported to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, with the end product being roughly a 50/50 ratio of males to females for the entire season.” While each individual bleeding session may have more males or more females, the 50/50 ratio is the goal by the end of the season. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources monitors the entire process: the number of trawls, how long each trawl can be, how many crabs are caught by each fisherman, how many males to females he brings in, and how many are rejected for size. Every aspect of the operation is controlled and monitored.