Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Catch Me If You Can

The giant blue land crab (Cardisoma guanhumi) is the largest of Florida's semi-terrestrial crabs. In its juvenile form, the crab is a dark brown, purple, or orange in color. As an adult, it is a bluish-gray color. Females sometimes appear light gray or white. A distinctive feature of these blue land crabs is that one claw is larger than the other. In southern Florida, these crabs are seen in low-lying areas of coastal counties and they rarely are found more than 5 miles from the coast. Adult blue land crabs are terrestrial (land-dwelling)critters and they return to the sea only to drink or to breed. They live in burrows several feet deep or at least to a level that will allow water to seep in for moisture. . Giant blue land crabs are primarily vegetarians, preferring tender leaves, fruits, berries, flowers and some vegetables. Their peak reproductive activity occurs during full moons in the summer. After mating, an adult female lays her eggs but carries the egg mass beneath her body for approximately 2 weeks prior to migrating to the ocean and releasing the eggs into shallow inshore waters. After hatching in the open ocean in October and November, the young crabs are carried by the ocean tides back to the shores.

The adult life of the blue land crab is spent away from salt water and in burrows 3 to 5in (8 to 13cm) wide and up to 5ft (1.5m) deep like what you see in this photo. In Florida, state regulations forbid harvesting of the blue land crabs for food from July 1st to October 31st so these crabs are safe today until November 1st of this year.

If you want to catch these fellows now, beware, because this is what The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says:

68B-54.002 Statewide Open and Closed Seasons for Harvesting Blue Land Crabs.

(1) Blue Land Crabs shall only be harvested during the open season, which is from November 1 of each year through June 30 of the following year.

(2) No person shall harvest, attempt to harvest, or possess any blue land crab during the period beginning on July 1 and continuing through October 31 of each year.

Bag Limit - No person shall harvest in any one day or possess at any time more than 20 blue land crabs.

It's not easy to catch these crabs because they can feel your foot steps and "poof," they disappear in their burrows before you can even blink. The decree above also says that these crabs can only be caught bare hands or with a landing or dip net. So... Good Luck!
Cardisoma guanhumi

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