CREATURE FEATURE #16 – FLORIDA STONE CRAB (Menippe mercenaria)
Slow moving, thick shelled and armed with enormous claws that can exert a force of over 19,000 pounds per square inch, the stone crabs which inhabit the rocky shoreline of Mound House are a remarkable testimony to millions of years of evolution. They are adapted to life on the sea floor with juveniles and young adults living in the estuaries and larger adults moving offshore to burrow in the the deeper grass flats or to inhabit rocky limestone ledges. They are well camouflaged with a mud colored carapace and sandy underside. Feeding on carrion and even seaweed if need be, the powerful stone crab prefers using its claws to break into shells of clams, oysters, conchs ,whelks and other marine mollusks.
On the other hand, stone crabs are a celebrated Florida delicacy and, in season, their delicious powerful claws can be found served with melted butter and a side salad at your favorite seafood restaurant.
Stone crabs are harvested by commercial trappers ,recreational trappers and even divers from October until May. Remarkably, the stone crab is a renewable resource. By law, only the claws may be taken, and the crab is released alive back into the water where it will regenerate new claws within a year.