Concerns over stone crab following months of heavy red tide in the waters around Florida
Stone crab are only legal to harvest between October 15 and May 15
One study conducted suggests the red tide has a significant impact on stone crabs
Moderately high levels of red tide showed a drop in reflexes appetite and mortality
Monday marked the start of harvest season for stone crabs. Stone crabs are only legal to harvest between October 15 and May 15. However, many are concerned about this year’s stone crab season following the harsh red tides that plagued the area over the last several months.
How exactly does the red tide affect stone crabs? That is a question that lacks the research to give a definite answer. The little research that does exist appears to show they do react to the presence of Karenia brevis — the marine dinoflagellate responsible for causing the red tide.
Preliminary research shows the red tide puts stress on sublegal stone crabs — adolescent crabs with claws that are not long enough to legally harvest yet — and possibly even cause death.
Mote Marine Laboratory scientists, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), conducted a study that indicated a “strong need for continued studies.”
The inspiration for the study came from Mote Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr. Phil Gravinese attending the state’s Commercial Stone Crab Advisory Panel meeting. Gravinese heard questions from stone crab fishers regarding the impact of the red tide on their traps.