|Can both of a stone crab's claws be harvested?
Both claws of a stone crab may be harvested lawfully if they
are of legal size. Although it is currently lawful to harvest both
of a stone crab's claws this practice leaves the stone crab
with few alternatives to defend itself from predators. Although
the crab can still obtain minimal amounts of food with no
claws, having one claw (if the other one is harvested) will enable the crab to obtain
greater amounts of food in a shorter amount of time. Stone crabs (like other
crustaceans) have the ability to grow back their claws, but this process requires a large
amount of energy in the form of food. The quicker the crab can obtain the energy required
to molt and grow its lost claw, the sooner this renewable delicacy will have another claw
to replace the missing claw.
Can I take claws from female stone crabs?
Yes, the legal-sized claws of female stone crabs can be harvested unless the female
crabs are carrying eggs. It's against the law to take even one claw from an "ovigerous"
(egg-bearing) female. The eggs are carried on the underside of the female and are held
by a wide "apron" (actually the abdomen). The eggs are usually orange but occasionally
red, red-brown, or brown-gray.
Can stone crabs survive after their claws are removed?
If the claws are removed correctly, a thin membrane forms over the wound and prevents
bleeding. If a crab is de-clawed incorrectly (i.e., if part of the body is taken with the claw),
the crab may bleed excessively or be unable to regenerate a new claw, and the
likelihood that the crab will die significantly increases.
How long does it take a stone crab to regenerate a claw?
That depends on a lot of things. If the crab has been declawed some months before it
molts, it will produce a new claw that's about 2/3 of the size of the original claw. Usually,
adult male crabs molt in the summer, and adult female crabs molt in the fall. If the crab
lost its claw just before molting, its claw will be smaller—sometimes substantially
smaller. Then, each time the crab molts, the size of the regenerated claw will be closer
to the size of the original claw. A legal-sized crab can regenerate a claw that is legal-
sized (harvestable) in about three molts (i.e., three years). A very large crab that lost its
claw can regenerate a legal-sized claw in one molt.
|Florida Keys Recreational Stone Crabbing
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