The recreational season for stone crab, the only truly sustainable marine resource in the United States, opened Tuesday. Unlike other species of crustacean that must be killed to be eaten, the stone crab's tasty, meat-filled claw can be taken without injuring the animal. Most stone crabs have one claw that is larger than the other. The large crushing claw, the one most prized for the dinner table, is the animal's principal weapon. A fully developed crab is strong enough to crush clams and oysters, so imagine what it can do to an index finger. Most recreational crabbers scuba dive for crabs around local bridges. But low visibility and strong currents can be dangerous, making this advisable only for experienced divers. Florida law requires crabbers to have a saltwater fishing license. It is unlawful to take claws from females bearing eggs, which should be visible under the crab. The use of hooks, spears or other devices that crush or injure the crab's body also is prohibited. The recreational daily bag limit is 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less. The season closes May 16, 2014. Go to myfwc.com for full details.
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Marine life surfaces inside institute
Want to get up close to skates and rays? The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (100 8th Ave. SE, St. Petersburg) will open its doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday for Marine Quest 2013. More than 60 exhibits and interactive displays will bring science to life for adults and kids. Visitors can touch sharks, horseshoe crabs, sea stars, spiny lobsters and other marine critters commonly found in Florida's waters.
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