Stone Crab

Florida’s regulatory agencies recognize three species as true stone crabs: the Florida variety (Menippe mercenaria), the Gulf crab (M. adina) and a hybrid resulting from interbreeding of the two primary species. Stone crabs are found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Texas to the Carolinas, but Florida accounts for almost all the commercial harvest. The fishery is unique in that Florida law forbids landing whole stone crabs; only the crab’s large front claws are kept. Fishermen are allowed to take claws with a 2 3/4-inch propodus, which is the pincher section of the claw, measured from the “elbow” joint to the tip of the pincher. After removing the claws, fishermen must return the stone crab safely to the water. If the claws are removed correctly, a thin membrane forms over the wound and prevents bleeding. A legal-sized crab can regenerate a harvestable claw in three annual molts. The crabs are captured commercially with traps, which are rebaited every other day.


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