The term “whiteboot” is used throughout the brotherhood of fisherman all over the world. Coined from the use of rubber whiteboots to keep their feet dry and protected whether on the deck of a shrimp boat, crab boat or walking on oyster beds. Many of these “whiteboot heroes” have been in the seafood industry for generations and often have worked hard their entire life.

Being in the “whiteboot brotherhood” is earned and not given.

It’s a great spring afternoon when Craig Reaves pulls his truck into the parking lot of Sea Eagle Market on Boundary Street in Beaufort, South Carolina. That’s the day you know you’ll get to eat the freshest, most delectable crab and oysters ever. And, if you hang around long enough, maybe you’ll hear a good story or two. As much as I want to linger for a visit, I hardly ever take time because I’m eager to rush home to start cooking and opening those little pieces of heaven.

It’s not an easy life when one has to rise before the sun and head out early to pull and empty pots, but I’m awfully glad we still have a few men who do. Craig is a fixture in the Lowcountry—someone we can count on to make our life here very special.

Locals know Craig and his family are the authentic articles. Their love for this place runs deep through generations, their faith is genuine and their love of life shines through in all they do. Craig and his family have been foraging the marsh, rivers and streams for several generations very much like other families I meet up and down the Southeastern coast.

The Vanishing American South

There’s tough competition from foreign markets. Our Whiteboot Heroes are fast becoming part of our vanishing American South, for theirs is a labor with few accolades and continuing hardships. But there’s a passion men of the Whiteboot Brotherhood have in common to keep our seafood industry alive in spite of hardships brought about by rising fuel prices and imports. Being in the Whiteboot Brotherhood is always earned. Their everyday labors go largely unheralded but these men are truly our heroes who enable our Southern way of life to continue.