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Octopuses threatening Lee County's stone crabs

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Posted: Sunday, March 2, 2014 4:00 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — An eight-legged mollusk with a big appetite has once again threatened to wreck Lee County's commercial stone crab season.

The News-Press reports (http://newspr.es/1fYVneq) that octopuses have invaded the area and are turning trapped stone crabs into piles of shell fragments.

Octopuses are a stone crab's and a commercial stone crabber's worst nightmare.

They're voracious predators; they love stone crabs; they can easily crawl into and out of stone crab traps; and they're smart.

Stone crabs are an important fishery in Florida: From 2003 through 2012, commercial fishermen harvested an average of 2.68 million pounds of stone crab claws with an average dockside value of $23.09 million.

Lee County's 10-year average was 136,666 pounds of claws.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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