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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

A renewable delicacy: Talking stone crabs with Kelly Kirk of Marco Island’s Kirk Fish Company

A platter of stone crab claws with mustard sauce and lemon wedges.
Florida Stone Crabber's Association
Most of the world’s stone crabs come from Florida’s Gulf Coast, and the Sunshine State’s stone crab season runs Oct. 15 to May 1.

As Kelly geared up for stone crab season, she took time to chat with Dalia about what you can expect to pay for a pound of stone crabs, how environmental changes affect Florida’s stone crab population and how she prefers to enjoy the delicacy.

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When you Google stone crabs, one of the top search results is Why are stone crabs so expensive?

The answer is simple: Supply and demand.

Stone crab claws are considered a delicacy. (For the uninitiated, you eat just the claws, not the entire animal.)

Most of the world’s stone crabs come from Florida’s Gulf Coast, and the Sunshine State’s stone crab season runs Oct. 15 to May 1. It’s illegal to harvest them any other time of year.

Stone crab claws are big business in Florida, worth an annual $34.4 million, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission—and that’s in an industry that works just half the year.

Few people understand the ins and outs of stone crabbing better than Kelly Kirk of Goodland, a small fishing village in the southeast corner of Marco Island. Her family runs Kirk Fish Company, a seafood processing facility and market that her grandfather Bud Kirk started in the early 1950s. In addition, Kelly is co-director of the Florida Stone Crabbers Association and sits on the board of the Everglades Seafood Festival.

As Kelly geared up for stone crab season, she took time to chat with Dalia about what you can expect to pay for a pound of stone crabs, how environmental changes affect Florida’s stone crab population and how she prefers to enjoy the delicacy.

To learn more about stone crabs, check out Dalia’s article in the fall 2023 issue of Forum, the magazine of Florida Humanities.

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