The stone crab (Menippe mercenaria) is a species of crab found in the western Atlantic Ocean, from Connecticut to Belize, including Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
Facts about Stone Crabs and Stone Crabbing
Stone crabs are known for their large, heavy claws which can be harvested for food. The claws are typically cooked and chilled, and are often dipped in butter or mustard sauce.
Stone Crab Identification and Appearance
- Stone crabs are known for having a hard, reddish-brown shell with white spots.
- Stone crabs can grow up to 9 inches wide and weigh up to 1.5 pounds.
- Stone crabs are often “Right handed” meaning that they have a larger right claw
- Female stone crabs are typically larger and have larger claws than males.
- Stone crabs are one of the largest crab species in florida.
- Most stone crab meat is found in stone crab claws and legs.
- The claws of the stone crab are the most valuable part of the crab, and can be up to 25% of the crab’s weight.
- The claws of the stone crab contain low-fat, high-quality protein, vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium.
- Stone crabs are a popular dish in Florida seafood restaurants.
- Stone crabs are considered to have a high meat yield.
- Stone crabs are sometimes considered a sustainable seafood option because only the claws are harvested, allowing the crab to regrow them.
Stone Crab Regulations
- Florida’s legal stone crab harvesting season lasts from October 15 through May 1.
- Stone crab claws must be at least a certain size (Approximately 2 7/8 inches long) to be legally harvested. Check with your local officials for precise information.
Stone Crab Diet and Habitat
- Stone crabs mostly eat clams.
- Stone crabs have strong claws for crushing clam shells.
- Stone crabs have 10 pairs of legs. Eight pairs are used for swimming and two are used for catching food and fighting.
- Stone crabs’ eyes are extended on stalks.
- Stone crabs usually hide underwater, using rocks and other structures as protection.
- Stone crabs are often found on and near oyster bars and seagrass flats.
What are stone crabs known for?
Stone crabs are known for their distinctive red/brown appearance. They have large, heavy claws which are harvested for their claw meat. The right claw is typically larger than the left.
A Sustainable Delicacy
Stone crabs are considered a delicacy and are one of the most popular species of crabs in Florida.
Stone crabs are often considered a sustainable seafood option because only the claws are harvested, allowing the crabs to be thrown back alive, and to regrow new claws.
The survivability of stone crabs after claw harvesting is lower, and it is still considered to be inhumane by many.
More information about stone crabs can be found via the Florida FWC, NOAA and the Audubon Society.