Warm waters are ideal for stone crabs. These species can be found on the southern tip of Florida from October to May. The Florida stone crabs (Menippe mercenaria) are an interesting species. Regeneration is one of their best characteristics. Crabbers drop baited traps into the water. The crabs use their claws to pull the traps up. Once the crab is caught. A crabber carefully removes one claw of it and releases it into the water. The crabs are not harmed. Their claws will be regenerated over the next year, and they can be caught again. So they are sustainable and well-managed seafood. When compared to its relative blue crab, its flesh is firmer and meatier; most people compare it to lobster. Stone crab claws are the only eaten part and it don’t have backfin meat.
Most stone crabs are caught by small, local entrepreneurs who work long, hard days with just enough assistance to lay and pull traps. Large-scale fishermen catch thousands of pounds of fresh stone crabs each season. Their boats are their own property, and they are responsible for insuring and servicing them. Because there are so many people hungry for stone crabs, their demand is increased. Therefore, farsighted laws passed by Florida’s legislature in the 1970s have played a more significant role than with most wild seafood in preserving the stone crab population. Those who love shellfish can feast on stone crab claws without any guilt since the crab grows another claw so that restaurants can profit from serving the customers.
Crabs can regenerate claws, just as they continually grow new shells when they molt. However, regeneration isn’t automatic as the sellers would have you believe. A skilled fisherman must puncture and puncture the joint at the right time or snap the claw at the right location, forcing the crab to contract its muscles and shed its claw. According to Florida law, claws must be held for a certain period of time, and females with eggs must not be hurt. It is best to return fresh stone crabs, whether declawed or not, to the water as soon as possible after their claw is removed, or to hold them in a shaded area and drench them every half hour until they are returned. Even if a stone crab is dead, it is illegal to possess the entire animal on land.