Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Jimmy, Sook, and Sally

Image credit: Bryan Fluech
The blue crab, or Callinectes sapidus, is a common inhabitant of Florida's estuaries and can be found in a variety of fresh, brackish, and saltwater habitats. This highly sought after crustacean helps support a multi-million dollar commercial fishery, and is also a popular catch for many recreational fishermen.

Image credit: FWC
In Florida, egg-bearing females are illegal to take as they obviously play an essential role in sustaining blue crab populations. These crabs are easy to identify by the large gray to orange mass cradled underneath the crab in its abdomen or "apron." Each sponge can hold millions of eggs. While it is not illegal to harvest females that do not have eggs with them, many fishermen chose not to harvest any females because of their importance to the fishery. Fortunately, by looking at the color of the claw tips and shape of the apron, fishermen can easily distinguish between male and female crabs.

 A male blue crab is known as a "Jimmy." They have blue tipped claws and their apron can be described as being shaped like the Washington monument or an inverted "T". Jimmies can be found throughout the estuary and also travel in to fresh water.

Image credits: FWC

An immature female blue crab is called a "Sally" or "she crab". Like a mature female she will have orange to red-colored claw tips, but the shape of her apron is different. The apron of a sally is triangle-shaped. It can also be thought of as an  inverted "V". Because she has not reached sexual maturity yet, the apron will be tightly sealed.

Image credits: FWC
Finally, a mature female blue crab is known as a "Sook". She too will have orange to red-colored claw tips, but her apron is more bell shaped. It is often said it likes the dome of the U.S capital building. She will hold her eggs (or sponge) within this apron. Females crabs can be found throughout the estuary as well as offshore in higher salinities.
Image credit: FWC

If you would like to learn more about blue crabs visit: www.bluecrab.info/

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