Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cedar Key Crabtraps and Clam Culture Conversation

Cedar Key is a small island community nearby. It's a closeknit town of people who make a living on the water or feeding tourists seafood at several restaurants that line the tiny waterfront. They boast the smallest public school in the state...the graduating class of this pre-K to 12th grade school is often 9 or 10 kids.

The picture below shows stone crab traps lined up along a dock. I wrote about stone crabs early on in this blog, but just to refresh your memory, these are the crabs that are released alive after the claws are taken. A few molts later and they have new claws for us to take again.


Lots of tiny docks like the one below jut out into the sheltered waters of the bayou. Most have little bits of land to go with them...just enough to park your truck for loading and offloading traps and crabs.


The photo below shows a Cedar Key feature that did not exist 20 years ago, and yet are now found anywhere there is a bit of space next to the water.


The small shed structure to the right is a clam nursery. Beneath the shed roof are wooden trays lined with plastic. In the trays are tiny baby clams, called "seed". When the clam farmer purchased them from the hatchery, they were about the size of a grain of sand. They will stay in this shoreside nursery for a while until they get about the size of your pinky fingernail.

The white PVC pipe is part of the recirculating system that pumps plankton laden seawater through the trays and back to the bayou. The clams filter out the yummy plankton and change it into yummy clam flesh.

Once the little clamlings reach that fingernail size, they are transported a little ways offshore to the clamfarmers seabottom lease. There they will be placed on the mud, in mesh bags that allow them to filter feed while keeping them together and keeping predators at bay.

In 9 to 15 months, depending on weather conditions, they will reach marketable size and sell wholesale for 12 to 15 cents each. A farmer may have several million clams on his or her lease at any one time.

Do the math.

...riddle me more day until...Posted by Picasa


doubleknot said...

Thanks for the info on clam farming. It sounds really interesting.
We got snow crab legs a week or so ago - check blog for pictures - we have been watching the shows on TV about the fisherman and wonder what they do with the rest of the crab if all we get are the legs. Guess, duh, I could Google it.

Floridacracker said...

I visited your site and saw those legs...they were Betty Grable beautiful!

Wayne said...

Even though FC doesn't rate oysters as highly as clams, I was involved in my latter high school and early FSU years with oyster culture research (Robert Menzel) at Alligator Point south of Tallahassee. (*And* during a couple of sailing trips down the west coast of Florida we spent two nights at Cedar Key!)

As for the anniversary, I see a number of things but none strikes me as significant to Pure Floria. Lee surrenders to Grant? The Mercury astronauts are chosen? The one that struck *me* on April 10 was the beginning of the most violent volcanic eruption in history - Mount Tambora in Indonesia, 1815.

Zanne said...

I know, I know, I know.....waving hand wildly in the air, hoping the teacher will call on me!

Wayne said...

Rats. Zanne always knows the answer!

Floridacracker said...

Of course she does, that's because she sits in the front of the class, not in the back row like you slackers! ;)

Not Tambora, but I was just watching a show on that on Discovery a few nights ago.

Wayne said...

FC, I even looked back at April 2005, which I note was close to your first post. Perhaps that's it!

threecollie said...

Clam farming! That is so cool!

roger said...

oyster culture is big up here. same kinda deal except the tiny things are put in short sections of pvc pipe stuck in the intertidal sand.

tomorrrow is the day my new pole trimmer is due to arrive.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

I'm a late arriver to your blog, so I looked up your previous posts on stone crabs. Very interesting indeed. Do the regulations permit the taking of both claws, or just one? If both, how do the crabs survive through multiple molts?

Ethical questions aside (which in this case could be mind-boggling), you stated the following:

"I racked my brain and tried to think of any other animal that compares to the stone crab...meaning what other animals donate an actual body part (eggs don't count) for us to eat, while still getting to live?"

I suppose you meant "donate" in the same sense as an Army sergeant who always manages to find "volunteers"?

Rexroth's Daughter said...

I cheated. I looked at Wayne's answer and then checked the archives. Sorry. I'm going to stand in the corner now.

I gave up all meat (I was vegan before I ever heard of such a thing!) 36 years ago. Then, I slowly reintroduced chicken and fish about 20 years ago. But over the past two years I have started to reconsider that decision. When I read about how most meat, poultry, and fish are raised and harvested in this country it truly makes me sick.

Floridacracker said...

Were you looking on Zanne's paper?

It really is neat and it has saved a bunch of traditional fishing families after a much needed netban almost put them out of business.

Oyster farming was taught at the same time clam farming was taught about 12 years ago. Oysters were much, much more labor intensive and clam farming won the popularity contest.
Trimming your pole?

Welcome. You may take both claws as long as the "forearm" section is at least 2.75 inches long. The crab has to switch from it's usual diet to more of a scavenger while clawless, but they do survive...mostly.
Donate...hmmm, you have a point!
All this ethical's like talking to Pablo :) Ethics...must be a midwest thingie.

If it makes you feel any better, chickens are vile, nasty, opportunists who will eat their own if given the slightest chance. They never cease to amaze me with their reptiliavian coldness.
That observation is based on years of freeranging yard chicks so we can't blame their meanness on crowded factory farm conditions.
Chew them with pleasure!

Likes2mtnbike said...

Harrumph. Looks like another one o' them there new-fangled-camouflaged-hydro-weed-farming outfits to me.
And, "Chew them with pleasure." Good one.

Floridacracker said...

Man, you saw right through that hydro weed camo. Dang. :)

Leslie said...

For some reason I can see myself killing the whole crab more easily than removing a claw. Too painful and too much impact on the poor crab. Yeah, death is a pretty big impact too but he doesn't hang around moping about it.

Floridacracker said...

The neat thing about the crab clan is they can automatically sever an appendage when threatened. If you do it right, they actually assist you in the removal.