90ºF

Look out: Giant land crabs loose in Brevard

Crabs are heading to ocean

Large land crabs can be seen walking across roads along beach side communities in Brevard, South Florida and the Caribbean.
Large land crabs can be seen walking across roads along beach side communities in Brevard, South Florida and the Caribbean. (FLORIDA TODAY FILE PHOTO)

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Beach side motorists beware: giant land crabs could be your next roadkill.

New 6 partners Florida Today says dark-brown splotches of crushed crabs blemish some stretches of State Road A1A, from Brevard to Vero Beach.

"This is the time of year they go to the ocean to mate," said Bill Kerr, an Indialantic environmental consultant, who saw countless crushed crabs on a recent drive along A1A in South Brevard and Indian River County.

Florida's largest semi-terrestrial crab is often confused with blue crabs, because people sometimes refer to them as blue land crabs.

The crustaceans are making their seasonal spawning migrations from their burrows to the ocean. Females migrate to the ocean during full moons to deposit their eggs in the ocean.

The migrations take place between June and December. Each female produces from 300,000 to 700,000 eggs, up to three times per season. Their spawning peaks in October and November, according to Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce.

The sweet white meat is a delicacy for some.

But you can't harvest them from July 1 to Oct. 31. The rest of the year, you can take up to 20 crabs per person per day, but only by hand or with a landing or dip net.

Harvest, possession, buying or selling egg-bearing blue land crabs is prohibited, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. FWC also bans stripping or otherwise molesting egg-bearing blue land crabs to remove their eggs. Harvest, possession, buying or selling blue land crabs from which the eggs, egg pouch or bunion has been removed also is prohibited.

You also can't harvest blue land crabs from the right-of-way of any federal, state or county-maintained road, whether paved or otherwise, or from any state park.

Land crabs can grow up to 11 centimeters and weigh up to 1 pound.