Photo of now-gone oysters by Ellie Bozmarova
This story is a fiction piece, and it was created from my imagination.
On Sunday, December 27, a couple of people—maybe a romantically involved couple, we don’t know—went to Whole Foods near Lake Merritt, walked up to the deli counter, demanded “All yer crab legs!” and then tried to leave the store without paying.
They succeeded and made away with $600 worth of crustacean appendages.
The above part of the story is actually not fictional—it really happened, according to local crime reporting app Citizen. Minus, we’re guessing, “All yer crab legs!” They probably didn’t say that.
What is more important, and more fictional, but could one day become true, is that this terrible two-o has inspired terrific copycat criminals throughout the Bay Area.
In Tomales Bay, oyster shuckers found nothing to shuck on Monday when all the oysters went missing. None in those little bubbly tubs of water, none on plates, none barbecuing. No oysters to speak of. Enough mignonette to drown in, but no oysters to appetize.
Luckily, these businesses have backup oyster farms in the bay itself, so they’ll still be around.
But their guess is this dangerous duo inspired locals to grab and run with other types of seafood.
In Monterey, abalone—which we actually didn’t know was available in this area!–was swiped from the local abalone farm company. Shell after shell, unaccounted for.
In southern California, an “urban shrimp farm” that recently opened promptly closed because of a lack of urban shrimp. This farm really exists, but we don’t know if the lack of shrimp exists because the shrimp does not exist. Go figure.
In illegal seafood markets, even their exotic and rare cucumbers, sharks, and the like went missing. Whole sharks, with fins, tons of them, gone. It really is incredible from a logistical perspective. Seafood is really heavy!
And what are the motives? What motivated our crab-stealing Oakland maybe-couple? What motivated people to copy them? Are people copying them, or is this one strange coincidence? Are we evolving into an interlinked consciousness? If so, can we maybe be more intentional with it and use it for good?
It’s like the entire state was inspired to end of year thievery!
An Investigation into Seafood Culprit-ism
We decided to take an exclusive trip to top seafood center, Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. in Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco. Searching for answers, we headed to Bubba.
Anyone who knows Bubba Gump’s knows this place goes through probably tons of shrimp. Though business has been slow the past year due to the pandemic and shelter-in-place order—and to locals warning tourists to just go somewhere else and try supporting smaller mom & pop shops instead—it screeched to a halt when there was no more seafood.
“We’re missing legs, tails, you name it!” Said the grumpy fictional owner of the semi-popular restaurant, which, for the record, this reporter and her family loved when we were kids.
Other local eateries, too, found no fish in the freezers when it was time to go into work on Monday. One owner compared this rash of theft to socio-political movements:
“It’s like -poof- all the seafood vanished! I’ve seen grassroots movement but this one is the fastest yet!”
Could it be this theft is linked to the incredibly trying year we’ve had economically? Could it be people are starting to take Marie Antoinette’s maybe-real quote, “let them eat cake,” literally? Could it be people finally discovered how much money Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos makes every second of every day and truly, fully, and irrevocably lost their minds?
One thing we know for sure: there isn’t even a shrimp to scampi around here. And crab? Forget about it. No more crab. No crabs. No legs, no shoulders, no knees, no little pointy claws your vegetarian sister faints when she sees you try to put them on your own hands.
A Secret Source
Local fisheries aren’t giving up. In fact, they’re tripling their efforts to bring seafood back to shore. “We may not know where that seafood went, but let’s face it, it’s probably all bad by now anyway,” said a young fisherperson.
Large boats with eco-friendly nets are scouring the sea for more fish they usually catch in nets. Slowly, we are replenishing the west coast’s seafood after this sudden shortage.
While it’s not possible to force oysters to grow faster, a group of oyster farmers has committed to reading the oysters one hour of bedtime stories per night to help them grow healthy and strong. “It’s the least we can do, but also kind of the most we can do,” said one farmer.
Black market seafood distributors have, finally, completely gone out of business. We would say we’re sad, but we’re not, because harming wildlife to meet illegal demand is not what living near the ocean is about. We are a little sad for those people losing their income, but hope they’ll be inspired to start an ethical line of work, like telemarketing or carpentry.
Thieves on Film
After seeing footage of more local thievery, we were able to catch up with a few thieves who haven’t been arrested yet. In this exclusive scoop, we learned why they were stealing five hundred pounds of trout from Costco on a pallet.
Our interview took place near their minivan, which reeked of fish. Apparently they hadn’t brought enough ice. The Costco pallet was upended in a ditch near the car.
All three thieves stood very still and looked us in the eye. “We’re not criminals,” they said.
“Sure,” I said. “But why do something with such terrible consequences, like jail and making your car smell bad?”
“It’s none of your business,” they said.
“Hmm,” I said. Is it any of my business? Hard to say. Is it any of anyone’s business? Whose business is it? Well, it’s probably the businesses’ business. I think we’ll leave it to them, along with law enforcement, to suss this out.
While we may not know what happened to that seafood—though we really hope we do, we can move forward into the future eating a little more tofu, and a little less bottom-dwelling sea parasite.