The Florida stone crab is a crab that can be found from Connecticut to Belize in the western North Atlantic, including Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the United States East Coast. It is extensively captured for human consumption. The carapace of a stone crab is 5 to 6.5 inches wide. They have huge, unevenly sized claws with black ends and are reddish red with grey patches and a tan underside. Female Florida stone crabs have a larger carapace than males of the same age, and males have larger chelae than females, in addition to the regular sexual dimorphism seen in crabs.
What do they eat?
Oysters and other small molluscs, worms, and other crustaceans are preferred by Florida stone crabs. They will also consume seagrass and carrion on occasion. Horse conch, grouper, sea turtles, cobia, and octopuses are among the stone crab predators.
Process of collection:
Unlike other types of crabs and crustaceans, stone crabs are harvested in a different process known as ‘declawing’. In this, before returning a live crab to the ocean, one or both claws of the crab are manually separated, as is done in the fishing business all around the world. Declawing is considered as a possibly more sustainable way of fishing since crabs can recover damaged limbs over time. However, because it takes a crab a long time to recover damaged limbs, whether or not the practice is truly sustainable fishing remains a matter of controversy, and the ethics of declawing is also a topic of debate due to the suffering that crustaceans experience.
Stone crabs are one of the most expensive crabs available. They can cost anywhere between 60-80$ for a pound of its meat. Only claw meat to be harvested, very strict regulation of catching the crabs, the claw must be at least 2.75 inches, no egg-bearing females to be harvested – are some of the reasons behind its astronomical price.
Sustainability is one of the most important factors behind the buying and selling of stone crabs. The strict laws and regulations that govern them are only about to be stricter due to the over-harvesting of these creatures.