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Stone Crabs

Can both of a stone crab's claws be harvested?
Yes, if both claws are legal-sized, both can be harvested. The legal size of a stone crab claw is defined as a 2¾ inch propodus. The propodus is the immovable component of the pinching part of the claw. It's not the entire claw, which has three segments. The measurement is taken from base of the joint between the "elbow" and the propodus to the tip of the propodus.

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.

Information provided by Fish and Wildlife Research Institute - to learn more visit the Florida Marine Research Institute webiste at www.floridamarine.org/

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