Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The orange tree of the sea

Artwork in the Goodland Post Office depicts the strong stone crabbing heritage tied to the village.

Artwork in the Goodland Post Office depicts the strong stone crabbing heritage tied to the village.

By Natalie Strom
natalie@coastalbreezenews.com

It’s the crab that keeps on giving. It’s the mighty, yet delicious stone crab. The Southwest Florida delicatessen is much more than your average shellfish. Learn all about it during a day around town at the “Are You Smarter Than A Stone Crab” event. Hosted by the University of Florida IFAS Extension, this tour takes those who are hungry for knowledge and a tasty treat of fresh stone crab claws through Marco Island and Goodland to learn more about “the orange tree of the sea.”

Goodland is home to many stone crab fishermen who work long, hard hours both during season and out of season, to procure the precious claws from their original owners. In the past, these crabbers have used the term “orange tree of the sea” due to the way the stone crab is able to reproduce its two large front claws.

Stone crabbers set traps at the bottom of the ocean and

Every year, Everglades City holds a Blessing Photos by  Natalie Strom of the Fleet at thestart of stone crab season. The tradition brings promise of a prosperous season.

Every year, Everglades City holds a Blessing Photos by Natalie Strom of the Fleet at thestart of stone crab season. The tradition brings promise of a prosperous season.

waterway floors to catch their prize. Upon hoisting the trap back on to the boat, they will twist the claws off the crab as long as they are to the specified size. A few years later, that same stone crab will be able to deliver the sweet claw meat once again. Just as the Florida orange tree always bears its fruit, so does the stone crab.

On Tuesday, April 29, the “Are You Smarter Than A Stone Crab” event will offer this information along with much, much more. Learn about the history and culture behind the crabbing industry and why the claws are such a tasty and often expensive treat.

This tour, which features stone crab tasting, may be the best deal you ever had when ordering up the claws at any restaurant or seafood store. Join Bryan Fleuch, UF/IFAS Collier County Extension Director and Florida Sea Grant Extension Agent, at the Marco Island Library at 3:30

The stone crab. Its claws only turn bright orange, white and black after they have been cooked.

The stone crab. Its claws only turn bright orange, white and black after they have been cooked.

p.m. on April 29 to be a part of this fantastic voyage. The cost is only $17 per person.

After learning about stone crab biology, trapping and the rich heritage associated with the commercial crabbing industry, take a quick trip to neighboring Goodland for a sample of what you’ve been salivating for since the tour began. Kirk Fish Company will offer more information on the ins and outs of the business. Stone crab sampling will also be available.

Participants must provide their own transportation to both tour sites. This is a trip not to be missed. Whether you are an historian, a food connoisseur or simply thirsty for knowledge about the amazing state of Florida, you won’t be disappointed by this trip.

Register at 2013stonecrabtour.eventbrite.com. For questions, call Bryan Fluech at 239-438-5594 or email him at fluech@ufl.edu. The tour begins at the Marco Island Library, 210 S. Heathwood Drive. It runs from 3:30 until 6:30 p.m. and ends at Kirk’s in Goodland.

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