When Safeway just won’t do, Vancouver foodies find a way to get the delicacies they want.

People wait at the docks for the arrival of a spot prawn boat. They’re buying at $20 per lb.

Pix below, plus a primer on spot prawns courtesy of the Chefs’ Table Society of BC, hosts of the just-wrapped Spot Prawn Festival. (Don’t miss it next year.)

Wild BC spot prawns are a delicacy known around the world for their sweet, delicate flavour and firm texture. They are most recognizable for their reddish brown colour, which turns bright pink when cooked, defining white spots on their tail and white horizontal bars on the carapace.

BC spot prawns are the largest of the seven commercial species of shrimp found on the west coast of Canada. They vary greatly in size, with some larger females exceeding 23 cm in total length. Prawns are hermaphrodites: for the first two years of their lives they are males, and then they change to females. Typically, spot prawns live a total of four years.

In BC, approximately 2,450 metric tonnes are harvested annually, with about 65% of the harvest coming from the waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland.

BC spot prawns are available live during the harvest season, which usually starts in May and lasts anywhere from six to eight weeks. Prawn fishermen spread baited traps along the rocky ocean floor at depths ranging from 40 to 100 metres. This method has minimal impact on ocean habitat and very low levels of bycatch of other species.

It’s just another part of urban life, by the ocean.