Florida Keys Stone Crabs
Florida Stone Crabs are a world known delicacy of our region and for many good reasons!
The meat of the Florida Stone Crab is tender, has a very low level of fats and it 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.
But How Do Stone Crabs Get to The Restaurant?
The bodies of these crabs are relatively small and are rarely eaten, but the crab claws, which are large and strong enough to break an oyster’s shell, are considered the famous Florida delicacy. BSC Fisheries, our proprietary fisheries in the Florida keys, uses stone crab traps to harvest the stone crabs. Harvesting is accomplished by removing one or both claws from the live animal and returning it to the ocean where it can regrow the lost limb(s) .
This process does not harm the species making it a renewable source of delicious delicacy of our region. To be kept, claws must be 2 7/8" (73.025 mm) long as of 2020, measured from the tips of the immovable finger to the first joint. The largest male claws are about 140 millimeters (mm), or roughly 5½ inches long. The largest female claws are about 120 mm (4¾ inches). The largest stone crab claw collected by the FWRI researchers was 148.9 mm (5 3/4 inches). Regeneration in adult crabs takes one year due to the seasonal molting of adult females in fall and adult males in winter.
The regenerated claws start out smaller than the original and will continue to grow through subsequent molts.
The Good News : Stone Crab population levels are estimated to be high and no overfishing is occurring. The unique manner in which stone crab claws are harvested helps ensure the long-term sustainability of the species.
Females carrying eggs are called oviparous and their egg sacs are known as sponges. Ovigerous females are easily identifiable by the orange or brown sponge the female carries under her. The sponge is revealed when the crab is picked up or turned over. All crabs should be checked for the presence of a sponge prior to declawing. If a sponge is detected, the crab must be placed back in the water immediately and unharmed.