Seafood fans can celebrate the start of stone crab season in the Florida Keys with the sixth annual Stone Crab Eating Contest set for noon Saturday at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina, 35th Street bayside in Marathon.
Amateur eaters age 18 and over compete to crack and consume 25 stone crab claws, picking them clean in the fastest time. If a tie occurs, a 10-claw tiebreaker will be held to determine the winner.
Stone crab season runs from Oct. 15 to May 15 each year. The Keys are a top supplier of the succulent delicacy to restaurants throughout the United States. Only the claws are harvested and the crab’s body is returned to the water to grow new claws. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the crustaceans are the state’s only renewable seafood resource.
Individual participants and two-person teams can enter the test of crab-eating capacity. Fees are $50 per individual and $100 per team. Contestants must be registered by 11 a.m.
Prizes are to be awarded that include gift certificates for area restaurants, day passes to Florida Keys attractions and hotel stays. After the contest, entrants are allowed to take home any crab claws they couldn’t finish to enjoy at their own pace.