MARATHON (CBSMiami) — Vanessa Seaverns proved she is the most proficient cracker and consumer of stone crab claws by taking top honors in the Stone Crab Eating Contest held Saturday in the Florida Keys.

Staged at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina, competition was fast and furious among a dozen determined contestants as they cracked, cleaned and ate their way through 25 stone crab claws, all vying to post the fastest time.

Seaverns, a Marathon bartender with a hearty penchant for succulent stone crab claws, followed a crack-them-all-first-then-eat strategy, finishing in 16 minutes, 30 seconds and surpassing her second-place finish during the 2011 contest.

“The secret to winning is being really hungry, and really fast,” Seaverns said. “I have a love for stone crab, I love eating them, so I have a lot of practice — not eating them quite that fast, but picking them apart, and cleaning them good.”

Seaverns won a Key West hotel stay for her efforts and a trophy.

About 40 percent of Florida’s annual stone crab harvest of nearly 3 million pounds comes from Keys waters, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Keys premier seafood delicacy is considered a renewable resource because of the crustacean’s ability to regenerate harvested claws.

The seven-month-long stone crab season began Oct. 15 and continues through May 15.


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