Stone Crabs! Celebrate the start of the season
Updated: September 7th, 2023
All about Florida Stone Crabs
Although Florida stone crabs also live in the Atlantic Ocean and can be found in the waters off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, most of the stone crabs harvested come from the Gulf of Mexico. Florida stone crabs are one of the true gems of Gulf coast seafood, as the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico lead to delicate, tender claw meat that is prized by crab aficionados around the world.
Each year, the Florida stone crab season begins in mid-October and runs until May 1st the following year. It is illegal to harvest stone crabs outside this season, so seafood lovers anticipate the arrival of fresh stone crab all summer long. Only the claws are harvested since the crabs can often regrow them over time, and the bodies of the crabs contain very little meat.
Stone Crab Time: The season opens Oct. 15
Florida Stone Crab season is from October 1st to May 1st. This period is when fishers are legally allowed to harvest the claws. This year's season has moved up by 2 weeks, so be sure to get them in before May 1st.
Florida Stone Crabs are usually found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts but are commercially harvested entirely in Florida. Specifically off the southern tip of Florida's peninsula.
It is illegal for fishers to harvest the full body of stone crabs. They are only allowed to take claws that are at least 2 7/8 inches long. But don't worry, stone crabs can regenerate their claws 3-4 times in their life.
Adult Stone Crabs are easily recognizable by their dark brownish-red oval bodies and a unique marking on the inside of their claw that resembles a thumbprint.
Florida's regulatory agencies consider three species of Stone Crabs: Menippe Mercenaria, Menippe Adina, and a hybrid of the two species.
The claw meat found in Florida Stone Crabs is considered a delicacy around the world. Its sweet taste and perfect texture can be eaten straight from the cooked claw or mixed into other dishes. In addition to being delicious, it also contains high-protein levels, which makes it an excellent source of nutrition. The meat is very low in fat and cholesterol, making it one of the healthiest foods you could eat.
How Long is Stone Crab Season?
Stone crab season is from October 15 each year through May 1st. That's seven months to enjoy fresh Florida stone crab at Billy's Stone Crab.
What is the Best Size Stone Crab?
You'll want to measure both claws before throwing them back into the water. If you're not sure how long each claw should be, check out this handy chart.
Stone Crab Season Facts
The Florida Keys is known as one of the Stone Crab Capital of the World. The Keys is one of the largest producers of stone crab claws.
• The name comes from the hard shell covering the body of these creatures.
From Gulf to Restaurant: Stone Crab Harvesting
Known as Florida's renewable seafood resource, only claws of at least 2 7/8 inches are harvested. The crab is returned alive to the Gulf of Mexico, where it typically takes a year to generate a new claw and up to three years for it to reach legal size.
When the waters off South Florida become too cold for harvesting, the stone crabs head northward toward warmer waters along the Atlantic coast. In late fall, thousands of these hardworking creatures make their way through the shallow coastal bays and rivers of North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi before arriving on our shores.
Southwest Florida crabbers work hard to harvest the delectable stone crab claws during the annual season. Stone crab claws must be cooked immediately upon being brought to the dock and then chilled. From there, claws harvested locally find their way to Billy's Stone Crab.
Best Menu Items to Discover Your Love for Stone Crab
At Billy's Stone Crab, we love stone crab season and picked out a few of the best menu items to get a taste of this seasonal, local favorite.
- Chilled stone crab with Billy's signature mustard sauce.
- King Crab
- Stone Crabs All You Can Eat
- Stone Crab Claws
Yes, You Can Buy Stone Crab by The Pound at Billy's Stone Crab
The Florida Stone Crab is a deliciously sustainable food that is caught locally right off our coast. The Florida stone crab loses its limbs easily to escape from predators or tight spaces, but its limbs will grow back.
When a claw is broken such that the diaphragm at the body/claw joint is left intact, the wound will quickly heal itself, and very little blood is lost. This greatly increases the chance of survival for the creature and enough time to grow back another claw for the next season.
The meat of the Florida Stone Crab is tender, has a very low level of fats, and offers a very interesting tasting experience. Stone Crabs are also a good source of protein, selenium, and magnesium. The best way to eat stone crabs is cold. Warm stone crabs have an iodine aftertaste, but cold stone crabs don’t. Before being eaten, the cold crabs are cracked and then served with Billy’s Signature Mustard Sauce on the side.
Billy’s signature mustard sauce is included with every stone crab order complimentary.
Come Celebrate the Stone Crab Season AT Billy's Stone Crab in South Florida
Whether you’re looking for wholesale stone crab claws to make on your own or you prefer to sit down and enjoy fresh-caught stone crab claws cooked by experienced cooks that know the protein inside and out, we have you covered at Billy’s Stone Crab. Our combination restaurant and market setup allow us to spread our love of stone crab claws throughout the season and ensure everyone gets a taste of the very best the coast has to offer. Contact us today to learn more about stone crabs, harvesting, and preparation or to make reservations at our oceanside restaurant.
Featured Image: nyker/Shutterstock