Interesting Facts about Stone Crabs: What Are Stone Crabs?

Updated: November 29, 2023

When October rolls around, it is time to enjoy some fresh, delicious stone crab claws. People around the world anticipate the harvest season for this sweet, succulent Florida delicacy.

In addition to great-tasting claw meat, there are many interesting facts about stone crabs.

  • Florida is home to most stone crabs, with the majority living in the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida. 
  • This Florida specialty is not available year-round, so be sure to get yours while you can from Billy's Stone Crab.

Ninety-Eight Percent of Stone Crabs Come From Florida

If you want fresh, delicious stone crab, Florida is the place to go. Billy's Stone Crab has over 40 fishing boats to catch stone crabs and other seafood in the Florida Keys. With a fish house in Marathon, FL, and another in Summerland Key, Billy's makes sure you get only the best fresh stone crab, seafood, fish, and lobster available. Enjoy a prepared meal in our Hollywood, FL dining room, pick up seafood and crab to take home from our market, or purchase fresh fish, stone crab, and other seafood online.

Stone Crabs Become Soft-Shell Crabs

The culinary world refers to crabs going through a molting stage as soft-shell crabs. Stone crab, like other types of crab, shed their hard shells to continue growing. Underneath the hard outer surface is a softer inner shell. Once crabs break their outer shell, they begin making a new one immediately. Fishers catch the crabs as soon as they molt their exoskeleton to prevent this process.

Stone Crabs Have Few Predators

With large, crushing pincers and hard outer shells, stone crabs have few enemies. The primary natural predator of these crabs is the octopus which can restrain a crab's claws with its tentacles and bite into the hard exoskeleton with its beak. Other predators include the Florida horse conch, black salmon, sea turtles, groupers, and humans.

Stone Crabs Are Incredibly Strong

Stone crab claws are different sizes. They use their smaller claw to hold onto prey while using their larger crusher claw to break through shells. A stone crab can exert up to 19,000 pounds of pressure per square inch with its crusher claw to eat mollusks, oysters, clams, hermit crabs, blue crabs, flatworms, mussels, and more. This impressive strength is part of what makes stone crab claws so meaty and delicious.

Stone Crabs Are Not Ambidextrous

Typically, stone crabs use their right claw more. You can usually find the giant crusher claw on the right side of the stone crab.

Fishers Only Harvest the Stone Crab's Claws

When fishing for stone crabs, fishers remove the claws from the crab, then return it to the water. This process does not hurt the stone crab, and it grows back the lost appendages in about one year. The limited stone crab season allows crabs time to regenerate their claws and helps maintain a healthy population in Florida. Claws must be a minimum of 2 7/8" for fishers to remove them.

Stone Crabs Lay a Lot of Eggs

Female stone crabs use male sperm to fertilize their egg mass, known as a sponge. The size of the sponge is proportionate to the size of the crab and can contain up to 1 million eggs at one time. One female may produce four to six of these in a mating season. Fishers do not take the claws from females that have eggs.

Female Stone Crabs Live Longer Than Males

Experts estimate that female stone crabs can live up to eight or nine years, while male stone crabs live up to seven or eight years. Males generally grow bigger than females and have a more variable rate of growth.

Stone Crab Season Is From October to May

Florida limits the timeframe for catching stone crabs, so make sure you head to Billy's Stone Crab during the harvest season. We offer only the best-tasting, top-quality stone crab claws in our restaurant and market. Fresh stone crabs will be available in our dining room starting October 16th, 2021. We start shipping online stone crab orders on October 17th, 2021.

Contact us to learn more about our quality stone crabs, our market, and our services and products. Serving Florida since 1975, Billy's is the place to go for a delectable stone crab experience.