Seaworn crabbers began hitting the docks at Fisherman’s Wharf on Wednesday evening, their boats crawling with spindly hard-shelled Dungeness doomed to a future going down the gullets of hungry seafood lovers.

But, judging by the first haul, crab season could be shortened dramatically by slim pickings.

The freshly caught crabs were quickly unloaded in plastic crates, where hundreds of the spindly creatures huddled together alive, but mostly still. The Dungeness were pulled out one by one and placed into smaller boxes and tubs in warehouses by the wharf, where distributors will portion them out to restaurants and markets across California.

The first batch of crab in the long-delayed commercial season was brought in mostly by small boats — the big ones aren’t expected back until Thursday night — but seafood companies were eager to buy the tasty crustaceans.

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