a crabby little nature lesson

 

We took a break from our backyard gardening, and spent a weekend on the Gulf of Mexico.  My father retired some time ago, and decided to take up commercial fishing to pass the time.  We were able to join my dad and mom one Sunday on the water. It was a first for myself and the kids. And boy, were the little gardeners excited when he started pulling up crab traps.

blue crab

On this day they were trying to catch blue crabs, but my parents mostly harvest stone crab claws.  The children saw, and handled, so many different species of crabs! It was amazing.  We were a couple of miles offshore, but the Gulf of Mexico was smooth as a lake that afternoon!

Crab Species Discovered:  Blue, Stone, Spider, and Hermit

spider crab with barnacle growth

Other Species Discovered:  lightning whelk (sea snail), remora suckerfish, osprey, dolphins

Osprey on old piling

Below, my five year old is handed a stone crab.  A stone claw crab’s pinch is so hard it will sever a finger.  This crab’s claws had already been harvested by other fishermen, but the crab still had crawled into the trap to eat.  Stone crabs will regenerate their claws within a year.  Most crabs have one or two claws, but since this one had none, he was safe for handling. She released him back into the water.

 

Both girls also released other kind of “safe” creatures, but blue crabs and adult stone claw crabs were off-limits.  

   

My favorite part was when they released two tiny, and I mean TINY, crabs!  They weren’t any bigger than a dime. I don’t know how the kids even spotted them in the traps. We think one is a baby stone crab.

 

I am blessed to have spent a day on the water with my family. We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather.

Horseshoe Beach, FL

 

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3 thoughts on “a crabby little nature lesson

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