We all just love crabs and want to enjoy every variety possible. You might have seen several tiny crabs with eyes on top at many beaches. They are called ghost crabs. And you must have wondered, can you eat ghost crabs too?
The answer is yes, you can definitely eat ghost crabs, but you must get some facts straight before you go ahead with them. There are a few ghost crabs that are poisonous and you must know what types of ghost crabs are edible.
Moreover, it would be helpful if you know the locations where they are found and at what time they are easy to catch. Along with these will discuss some tips on how to clean ghost crabs.
Let’s know everything in more detail.
Are Ghost Crabs Edible to Humans?
Ghost crabs are generally safe and edible to the human body. All the varieties of ghost crabs found are almost safe to eat.
But these ghost crabs are quite unknown to most people and even if they know them they would still avoid eating them.
The reasons are simple, people do not eat ghost crabs due to the tiny amount of meat obtained from them. Also, it’s an unconventional and inconvenient food across all regions of the world.
There are a certain variety of ghost crabs, though rare, that are toxic to be eaten like blue crabs and Atlantic ghost crabs. Hence, people generally avoid eating them up.
Still, you can try out one of them. As some people relish eating them up (Like in Maui Hawaii). However, it would be essential to know their types before eating a ghost crab.
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Types of Ghost Crabs: Which Type You Can Eat?
Many types of ghost crabs can be classified as edible and non-edible depending on whether their body produces some kind of toxins or not.
Edible Ghost Crabs
They are also edible, try to eat the claw and leg meat. They Feed on cultivated plants that may have pesticide residue.
These residues might get transferred to Land crabs, especially to their internal organs. Therefore, it is advisable to eat only the claw and leg meat, and it’s better to avoid internal organs.
These include Florida sand crabs, which are another variety of ghost crab that can be eaten if thoroughly washed and cleaned.
Make sure you catch them from clean beaches so the chances of toxins accumulation are the least.
Non-edible Ghost Crabs
Yet there are species of ghost crabs that are non-edible like the Atlantic ghost crab and the blue crab. These are toxic species of ghost crabs due to the presence of toxins like Domoic acid.
Note: Let all ghost crabs grow big enough before you eat them. You must remember that edible crabs have large claws. Big enough to crack open shells of mussels.
Where You Can Find Ghost Crabs?
Most of the ghost crabs and their subspecies are found in various tropics. Most of the ghost crabs and their subspecies are found in different tropical and subtropical regions around the world.
Such as in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Eastern Pacific coast of the Americas.
You may find them under sands across estuarine and oceanic beaches, known as sand crabs. When they are found along the coast of the Atlantic, they are referred to as Atlantic ghost crabs.
Apart from these, ghost crabs are a natural occurrence on coastal beaches and back shores worldwide.
You may find them in water and on land, as they are semi-terrestrial. Mostly they love to dig sand Burrows and dwell there.
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Reasons Why People Avoid Ghost Crabs
There are various concerns people have with ghost crabs. Some of these are common and widely prevalent among people. Let’s explore them.
Sometimes Ghost Crabs Can Be Poisonous
Ghost crabs on beaches sometimes are contaminated by different toxins and heavy metals. These toxins and heavy metals enter their bodies and bioaccumulate, making ghost crabs unfit to eat.
Toxins like Domoic acid produced by microscopic algae cause severe poisoning in ghost crabs. This toxicity can pass down to humans when they eat ghost crabs.
Small In Size
Most people don’t like to eat ghost crabs due to their small size and insignificant amount of flesh. Sometimes people simply avoid eating them as they are not familiar with them.
You may feel that finding and catching a ghost crab would take a long time, while the meat obtained is not enough to make a filling dish. Due to their small size, people don’t eat ghost crabs.
Not Easily Washable
Healthy food is the one that is cleaned thoroughly and safely cooked. However, due to their small size, ghost crabs require a lot of effort when it comes to washing. Shells are not easily removable, and they are difficult areas to reach.
So you may find it hard to clean, and thus ghost crabs are not recommended to be eaten by many people.
Yet it would be worthwhile to try them out once as they are non-poisonous and harmless. People on Hawaiian islands savor them most often, and you can too.
And if you have made up your mind to go ahead with the ghost crabs, it would be worthwhile to discover some tips to collect and clean them.
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Useful Tips to Catch and Clean a Ghost Crab
Due to their small size and nocturnal behavior, they may be hard to catch. These tips may help you to catch them with ease.
- Visit a beach at night if you want to catch them, as they are nocturnal.
- Finding them during the night may be an uphill task. Carry a flashlight with you and scan the beach up and down to spot them.
- Shine the flashlight right at a ghost crab. The ghost crab freezes with the sudden flash of light.
- Keep the steady flashlight while scooping them up.
Before you start eating the ghost crabs, you must ensure that they are properly cleaned and washed through.
Here are the tips:
- Place your ghost crabs under cool water. Now scrub the bottom of the shell with a brush. Make sure you cover joints and the parts near joints.
- Keep the washed ghost crabs in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This will stun them.
- Take a stockpot and fill three-quarters of it with water. Now over the high heat, bring the water to a boil.
- Place the ghost crabs in this boiling water for the next 10 minutes.
- Take out from the boiling water and let the ghost crabs cool off.
- With the help of a tong or a pick, remove the top shell and twist off the tail portion.
- Peel off gills, and remove innards, if any.
- Twist off the claws. With a nutcracker, break off the claws to take out all the white meat.
In the end, I hope that all your confusion about “can you eat ghost crabs” is clear by now. However, ghost crabs rarely form part of the traditional culinary system. They are unconventional and unfamiliar to the taste buds of many.
And the reason is their minimal size and a great variety of easily available and flavourful alternatives.
Still, you can eat ghost crabs occasionally as they are edible and generally nontoxic to humans. A few cleaning tips and tricks are needed, and you can enjoy them as and when you desire.