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Environment

Octopi Attack Devastating Florida's Stone Crabs

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St. Marks Stone Crab Festival
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Natural North Florida

This year's traditional Florida stone crab Christmas dinner may cost you. The crab harvest is down by almost 80 percent - due to an onslaught of octopi.

A warm winter is bringing octopus closer to Florida's Gulf Coast, and the multi-limbed pillagers are eating up lots of Florida's stone crab.  

Hernando Beach Seafood Co. owner Kathy Birren says only one out of nine boats are able to harvest right now. Birren says if the Gulf doesn't cool down, the season could be ruined.

"I'm actually hoping maybe the Department of Agriculture will be aware and try to help out some of these guys. It's just very difficult," Birren adds.

"They went from what looked like a decent season, but when the octopus come in like this it just really devastates the industry," she said.

"So we are just hoping that things are going to change, maybe in the next few weeks. But it is possible that this could be the season from now until May."

Birren says because of the shortage, the cost of stone crab has nearly doubled.