Sunday, November 13, 2011

catch of the day

Any excuse to eat out, especially when company is here. Stone Crab claws are in season now and offered at all the local restaurants, so when Melissa was here we indulged!

The stone crab claws are harvested by local fishermen, who are allowed to take one claw and release the rest of the crab back into the water. The claw will regrow in a year's time. Pigs feet are used to bait the crab traps, although Buddy heard of one local using iguana for bait, makes sense, it is locally available and very plentiful.

Since we have been here we have had yellow tail snapper, grouper, mahi mahi, shrimp, lobster, jewfish, and stone crab, all fresh from the sea and delicious. Just one more reason it will be hard to leave paradise.

The body of the Florida stone crabs relatively small and so are rarely eaten, but the claws are considered a delicacy.

The Florida stone crab loses its limbs easily to escape from predators or tight spaces, but their limbs will grow back. It only takes about one year for the claw to grow back to its normal size. Each time the crab molts, the new claw grows larger.

The larger of the two claws is called the "crusher claw". The smaller claw is called the "pincer claw". If the larger crusher claw is on the right side of the crab's body, the crab is "right-handed". If the crusher claw is on the left side of the crab's body, it is "left-handed". Since crabs' eyes are on stalks, they can see 360°. A large crab claw can weigh up to half a pound.

Crab traps are set using pigs feet for bait. Harvesting is accomplished by removing one or both claws from the live animal and returning it to the ocean where it can regrow the lost limb(s). To be kept, claws must be 2.75 inches long, measured from the tips of the immovable finger to the first joint. Florida stone crabs are legal for harvest from October 15 until May 15.

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