Seafood On Sanibel
The waters surrounding Sanibel and Captiva are teeming with big game fish – making it one of the prime fishing spots in the country. But along with the big game fish there is also the little fish – the small fish that serve as food for the bigger fish and as bait for the fishermen. There are lots of them and while they aren’t the same challenge as the game fish some are pretty interesting. Two of them are the Pistol Shrimp and the Blue Crab. The Pistol Shrimp – Maybe you’ve heard their sounds while walking the shore or in the wildlife refuge. They sound like crinkling paper or Rice Krispies. They’re found in abundance in the waters of Sanibel and particularly the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. More accurately they’re just beneath the surface of the waters hunting their prey of small fish with their own pistol. Their pistol is a claw that they slam shut so fast it creates a bubble that hurtles toward their prey at over 60 miles per hour. When it hits the prey it bursts loudly at over 200 decibels – louder than a gunshot. It is said that during the war the submarines would seek out colonies of Pistol Shrimp and use their noise as a cover. There are hundreds of species of the Pistol Shrimp, some of them reported to be edible but most of them not. They are about 1” to 2” long so a meal would call for a lot of shrimp. Many of the Pistol Shrimp that are captured are for private or commercial aquariums. There is no season. The daily limit for shrimp is a 5 gallon bucket and you’ll need a salt-water fishing license if you’re not a resident. The Blue Crab – is a small 4” to 5” crab that is a challenge to catch and mouthful of great taste when you do. They are most available in the wildlife refuge along the main drive at any of the seven bridges with a water flow under the bridge. That’s where you’ll find the Blue Crab. And everything is in their favor. They are really fast swimmers and you’re limited to using a dip net – no baits or traps. So it’s dip and catch and then a delicious crab meat dinner. The season is April to November but is subject to change. Check the local bait shop. The daily limit per person is 20 crabs with no more than 10 female and it requires a salt water license if you’re not a resident. Good eating!