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Romancing the Stone Crab

Joe’s Stone Crab is a great way to impress your date for Valentine’s Day with its great food, service and ambience – we make it easy. 

And yes, while you might wait a while for a table to start your sumptuous meal with us, consider how much longer a love-struck stone crab has to wait when it’s his or her time for romance.


Males have to wait for a special time (often just once a year) when a potential sweetie is available. Then, the affair can last as long as nine days from start to finish.


“When it comes to the topic of sex in the sea, truth is stranger than fiction,” says Bryan Fleuch, a scientist at the University of Georgia.


Florida stone crabs (Menippe mercenaria) can only mate when a female molts and temporarily loses her hard shell. To get the boys interested, she first spreads sexual attractants - pheromones - into the water.

“There are lot more things going on with stone crabs beyond something that’s on a dinner plate,” says Dara Wilber, a marine ecologist at the College of Charleston. She studied the male stone crab’s unusual sexual behavior -  his elaborate “guarding” of females before and after sex.


Wilber says stone crab hookups usually happen at “her” place – a crevice offering protection from the eyes of prying predators. The male begins by guarding his gal until she’s ready – snuggling shell-to-shell – for two or three days. Finally, when the sparks fly, Wilber says the sex is acrobatic and can last eight hours or longer --  no Viagra needed.


Afterwards, the gentleman doesn’t just up and leave – he continues guarding his still-vulnerable lady for several more days until her new skeleton hardens. Why? Wilber’s research suggests males are motivated by jealousy. Guarding ensures offspring will bear his DNA, not those of another fella.


Leaving the bedroom too soon after sex is risky. In one case, a male went out to bring back food, only to find another male had taken his place. “From a male’s point of view, you have to guard your investment,” Wilber says. “If another guy walks in, and inseminates…you’ve wasted expensive time.”


A female can store enough sperm to last a whole year -- a personal sperm bank she draws on later when needed to fertilize batches of eggs.


“When you’re not sure when your next date is going to be, that’s a strategy for survival,” Fleuch said.


So – the next time Cupid’s arrow hits you, take your Valentine to Joe’s – and consider yourself lucky you’re not a stone crab.


Click here to order stone crabs.

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