Blue Crab & Stone Crab

This week for Flora and Fauna Friday everyone’s favorite, or maybe second favorite, crustacean is on the menu: Crabs. More specifically Atlantic Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) and Florida Stone Crab (Menippe mercenaria).

There are many species of crab found in the waters of the Lowcountry but today I’ll just be talking about the Blue Crab and the Stone Crab, the two most common eatin’-size species you’ll encounter in the creeks of Edisto Island. Both of these species are large, native, and pinchy but have very different life styles.

The Blue Crab is the staple crab of the seafood menu. They’re a large and graceful crustacean that can exceed nine inches wide from tip to tip. Their handsome shell is mottled with worn greens and browns across the back. A wash of sky blue paints the corners and peripherals of their limbs over a pearly plastron canvas. Mandarin accents their extremes on the many spines that line their limbs and carapace. A fashionable critter, no doubt. Blue Crabs are swimmers. Their streamlined profile and flattened legs let them scuttle through the water column, patrolling the creeks or bolting from danger. Blue Crabs spend their days following the tide in and out of feeder creeks in search of tasty morsels. They use their slender, pointed claws to nab fish and crustaceans, reach into the shells of snails and oysters, or hang onto carrion they discover. The Blue Crab is an economically important fishery in SC and, no matter your technique for catching them, crabbing is a ubiquitous Lowcountry pastime.

The Stone Crab is a substantial, barrel-chested crustacean that reaches six inches in width. They’re a mix of pluffmud-gray and burgundy across their armored body with thin, pointed legs and two intimidating pincers. They bide their lives in the tidal creeks hanging around oyster reefs and dock structures. Nearby they build the burrows they retreat to between tides. Upon the reefs they feed on Oysters, Mussels, small crustaceans, and any dead things they chance to encounter. Unlike Blue Crabs, they cannot swim and thus cannot move freely with the tides or escape predators. Instead, they rely on their pointy feet to anchor themselves to the oysters while their heavily armored shell thwarts nibbling. Their big meaty claws pinch the snot out of any fish or finger that gets too close. Speaking of big meaty claws, Stone Crabs have asymmetrical claws, one crusher claw and one pincer claw. These claws serve different purposes during feeding. One is shaped to break shell and bone. The other more slim, to pick at the softer bits. Still on about them claws, it is legal to harvest Stone Crab claws with a saltwater fishing license in SC but only one claw of legal size may be taken per crab.

News & Events

Upcoming Events

  • November 10, 2024
    Edisto Island Open Land Trust Annual Oyster RoastRead More
See The Calendar

Latest News

See more News