What are stone crabs?
Stone crabs fall into two categories in this area: Gulf stone crab and Florida stone crab. Gulf stone crabs can be found in all five Gulf states and are known for their giant crusher claw. The crusher claw accounts for almost half of a stone crab’s weight and can easily crush an oyster, which happens to be its main source of nutrition. Gulf stone crabs are brownish-maroon in color. Florida stone crabs closely resemble the Gulf stone crab, except they have a spotted brownish-maroon colored shell which gives them a somewhat lighter appearance. And they are harvested exclusively in Florida.
Both types of stone crabs are renowned for their light, delicate meat and signature sweet taste. A squeeze of lemon and some freshly drawn butter are all you really need, but a nice rémoulade sauce pairs well too. Pardon us as we begin to drool.
When is stone crab season in Florida?
Stone crab season begins October 15 and continues through May 15 in Florida. What are you waiting for?
How are stone crabs harvested on the Gulf Coast?
Stone crab harvesting by commercial and recreational crab fishers is done mainly by the use of baited traps. Some recreational crabbers collect them by hand using scuba or snorkel gear. Recreational crab fishers are limited to five traps per person and a saltwater fishing license is required.
Stone crab fishing is somewhat sustainable because the crabs are harvested mainly for their claws. Usually only one of the claws is removed (sometimes both if they are of legal size, but that is not encouraged) and the crab is returned back into the water. You might be thinking, aw… poor crab. But in reality, the stone crab adapts, regenerates its lost claw, and is as good as new.
If you’re interested in learning more about the recreational stone crab harvesting rules and regulations, click here.
Are there any special events surrounding stone crab season on the Gulf Coast?
We’re glad you asked that question. Yes, yes there are. It’s kind of a big deal around these parts, so stone crab celebrations abound. You can usually count on them starting the weekend following the opening of stone crab season.
We highly recommend the John’s Pass Seafood Festival in Madeira Beach. Attend the festival, and let us know what you think.
Don’t forget to read more about Florida’s Gulf Coast seafood and where to dine locally for the freshest seasonal catches. We have some great recommendations for you.