Some Floridians look forward to stone crab season the way kids look forward to summer vacation. But this year things are looking a little dicey for the $30 million industry. Sure, restaurants are still serving, but their numbers are limited and prices are sky high at more than $50 a pound for the ever popular “Jumbos.” Fishermen are only catching one claw for every fifteen they used to get, a baffling number they’ve never seen.
No one is quite sure why there are so few stone crabs to be had, but one funny theory to ponder is octopi. As Gulf waters have warmed the octopus population has exploded and stone crabs are one of their very favorite meals. Moreover, they are smart and agile enough to crack even the most advanced of traps. No doubt, celebs and notable locals like Anthony Shriver will still frequent stone crab standbys like Joe’s Stone Crab, but that plate of claws is more of a luxury than ever.