MARATHON (CBSMiami/Florida Keys News Bureau) — There’s plenty of buzz for seafood lovers at the start of stone crab season. More than 50 hungry competitors, on Saturday got cracking, participating in the Stone Crab Claw Eating Contest in the Keys.
The event was staged at the Keys Fisheries Market and Marina in Marathon as an ode to the start of the 2013 stone crab season opening.
Competitors had to eat 25 stone crab claws, picking them completely clean in the fastest time.
Two categories featured single competitors and a new division which attracted two-person teams.
“The key in winning this event, the stone crab eating contest, is knowing how to crack the crab,” said Gary Graves, vice president of Keys Fisheries and the contest’s coordinator. “The second most important thing is you must know how to pick the crab clean.”
Alfredo Munoz, of Moses Lake, took 17 minutes and 35 seconds to wash, crack and consume 25 claws, winning the individual division. John Mahoney and Larry Smorgala, of Marathon, placed first in the team division.
The Keys are Florida’s top supplier of the world-renowned delicacy, averaging about 40 percent of the state’s annual stone crab harvest of nearly 3 million pounds, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Stone crab claws, considered a renewable resource because of the crabs’ ability to re-grow harvested claws, are harvested from Oct. 15 to May 15.
The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.