Sea Creatures Of Florida
I’m sure you have noticed that Florida seems to be surrounded by water on three sides. We are practically an island state. Looking at Florida it would seem to be the ideal sea life lover’s paradise. So, with all of this water and this warm weather year round, you just know there is an abundance of sea creatures playing beneath our waters. Maybe while you’re here you might see one of these three sea critters.
One creature native to Florida is the “Florida Lobster” or sometimes called the “Spiny Lobster”. As the name suggests, it is a thin spiny lobster with two large “spines” forming above the eyestalks and is more closely related to shrimp, crayfish, crabs and the Spanish lobster more so than its Maine Lobster cousin. The Florida Lobster is a nocturnal species and will travel in a pack of hundreds across the ocean floor in a line. Like its far distant cousin the Maine Lobster, the Florida Lobster is prized for its tail meat, yet unlike the Maine lobster there are not two giant claws (or even one) to gather more meat, as they have no claws or pincers. The Florida Lobster tail meat has a somewhat coarse texture with the meat having a sweet distinctive flavor.
You may know the conch better by the colorful spiral shell seen in many beach scenes. This is the same shell you see in movies and television being blown like a horn. Inside that rather pretty shell lives a large marine snail or mollusk. The animal is removed from the shell and then used as in various foods such as Conch fritters, Conch chowder and Conch gumbo. It may, also, be eaten raw or put into salads. Conch meat does have a sweet, mild taste like a clam, but can be very tough. Usually the Conch meat must be tenderized or marinated to make it easier to cook and eat; if not then it will have the consistency of old chewing gum. The easiest way to test the Conch waters is with a Conch fritter; batter with pieces of Conch fried in it. But never, ever call it “conCH”, it is called “KonK” and you will surely be looked at very strangely if you do.
Another mysterious creature from the Florida waters would be the Stone Crab. They are a brownish red creature with gray spots and a tan underside. They have huge and unequally sized claws with black tips. Unlike the Blue Crab, when caught for food consumption you do not cook or steam the whole crab for the meat. The Florida Stone Crab is harvested for its claw meat only. And only one claw is removed when caught and the other is left intact so it may defend itself when released upon the de-clawing. Don’t worry too much about this crab; he will grow back the missing claw in 12 – 24 months. The claws of the Stone Crab make up half of the crabs body weight. The claw meat is highly treasured as a delectable treat and is considered to be one of the best varieties of crabmeat.
The next time you’re wandering the Florida coastline, take time to see if you catch sight of a conch, lobster or crab. They do share our waters.