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Stone Crab

Don’t Miss Out – Stone Crab Season is Here on the Suncoast!

| Angela Naff |

Stone Crab Season is a long-standing tradition that visitors and residents alike wait for each year. These delectable shellfish options make amazing dishes, the centerpiece of festivals this time of year, and tasty memories. The 2023 season here on the Suncoast runs from October 15, 2023, through May 1, 2024. The Suncoast boasts fresh boat-to-table options up and down the coast, as well as making this one of the best exports from our region during this pivotal time of the year.

Stone Crab FAQ

Test your knowledge of Stone Crabs with these ten interesting and necessary facts about this time of year:

  • Menippe mercenaria is the scientific name for Florida stone crab.
  • Stone crabs become soft-shell crabs – Many people do not know that soft-shell crabs are actually stone crabs going through a molting stage.
  • Ninety-eight percent of stone crabs come from Florida.
  • Once a stone crab loses a claw or another appendage, it takes several molts to fully regenerate.
  • Female stone crabs live longer than males.
  • Female stone crabs can lay up to one million eggs in one sitting.
  • A stone crab can exert up to 19,000 pounds of pressure per square inch with its crusher claw to eat mollusks, oysters, clams, hermit crabs, blue crabs, flatworms, mussels, and more.
  • Only the claws are harvested, and they must be at least 2¾” in length.

Local Support of Stone Crab Season

Supporting small businesses and events around the Suncoast is a great way to support the stone-crab-sustained businesses. Here are some local businesses for your stone crab enjoyment this season.

  • Cortez Fishing Village – was founded in the 1880s by settlers from North Carolina and is considered the oldest and one of the last remaining fishing villages in Florida. Monitor the local vendors in the village for events featuring not just stone crab but fresh fish options and events year-round.
  • Cortez Stone Crab & Music Festival – Annual festival held on November 11 & 12, 2023 from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily. This event is held in the parking lot of the Swordfish Grill and Tiki Bar. This event features two days of live music, fresh seafood, a beer tent, a kid’s area, and local art vendors.
  • Cortez Bait & Seafood Fish Market – The Cortez Bait & Seafood Company has been the place for the “locals” to go for many years. Cortez, Florida, a fishing village, is known for its fresh fish and local catch! You can buy fresh stone crabs here to prepare at home.
  • Swordfish Grill and TikiThe Swordfish team incorporates many elements that result in a great dining experience. First, the atmosphere at the Swordfish Grill. The Swordfish Grill is a hidden gem in the Cortez Fishing Village, offering a relaxing and laid-back atmosphere by Sarasota Bay.

Stone crabs are one of the most delectable exports from our amazing state. Whether you are headed out to the waters to harvest stone crabs or visiting a local business to enjoy them–it’s one of the favorite years here on the Suncoast! Stunning views, live music, and great food are key indicators of an amazing fall here in Florida. Get out and enjoy this wonderful time of year’s festivals, food, and fun.


Photo by Deposit Photos

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