Seeking refuge from the red tide toxins, hundreds of stone crabs have been washing up on beaches, such as Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs, then dying on the shore.
The deaths of these stone crabs have businesses in SWFL becoming increasingly worried. The worries can be attributed to the start of harvesting season, Oct. 15, for these reddish-brown sea animals.
“If the larger populations of pre-legal crabs don’t mature to be of legal size," chef James Fraser said, a business professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, "then there’s going to be a short supply of crabs for that season."
You’re not allowed to harvest a stone crab unless the claws are two and three wearers inches low. And with red tide, stone crabs aren’t growing as big because of the lake of oxygen.
“It’s going to impact all the crabbers that are out there because it’s going to be highly competitive trying to get the crabs," Fraser said, "then the cost is going to go up across the country."
A total of 80 percent of stone crabs in the United States come from Florida. A majority of these Florida crabs originate from Monroe, Dade, and Collier counties.
Those in the industry that has grown around these nutritious and delectable sea creatures will find some solace that stone crabs in red tide areas are safe to eat.
But you should stay away from oysters, clams and mussels because they tend to absorb the red tide toxins .
"The red tide doesn’t affect the tissues of the crabs,” Fraser said.