Identifying Florida Stone Crab:
The Florida Stone Crab, found in the Gulf of Mexico, is considered a subset species to Menippe mercenaria, Stone Crab found in the Atlantic Ocean. In regards to commercial fishing, they are counted as the same. The two species can intermate and their habitats can overlap.
The body of the Florida Stone Crab is brown with gray speckled spots. Their most common identifying characteristic are their black tipped front claws. Their bodies, or carapace, grows from 5 to 6 1/2 inches wide. The front claws, or chalae, are large and unequal in size. The propodus is the section of the claw used to measure harvestable size. The legal size for keeping a Stone Crab claw in Florida is 2 3/4 inches or greater. The FWC describes the propodus measurement, "From the base of the propodus (at the joint of the elbow) to the outer tip of the propodus". The outer tip of the propodus is the end of the bottom of the claw.
Stone Crab prefer rocky areas including jetties and oyster beds but have been known to wander into marshes, They can be found in and around man-made dock pilings. Their habitat is conducive to their diet of worms, other crustaceans, small molluscs and oysters. They also eat seagrass. A crab's den can be a hole it has dug, six inches to three feet deep.
The Florida Stone Crab lives in one foot to five feet of water.
Florida Stone Crab Fun Facts:
- In commercial fishing, only the claw is harvested. The rest of the crab is returned to the water where it will grow the claw back.
- A Stone Crab will drop its limb to escape from predators in the wild.
- To dig their dens, Stone Crab have been known to use a shell as a tool.
- Females reach sexual maturity at around two years of age.
- Females can lay 3 million eggs at a time.
- Holiday Seafood has fresh Florida Stone Crab all season long, October 15th through May 15th.