Locals love this tasty summer treat
Manzanillo's dry season lasts from November through May. In June, when the first rains come, thousands of bright orange/red and purple crabs emerge from holes in the dirt and scuttle to the sea.
The crabs, Gecarcinus quadratus ("square land crab") live along Pacific coasts from Mexico to Peru. They average about 5 inches from claw-to-claw, but some get even bigger, as evidenced by a proprietor of a local restaurant in La Boquita, who is holding one whose claw is as big as his hand.
Please click on photos below to enlarge.
|They are considered a delicacy by the locals, who
can be seen patrolling the side roads and wetlands areas with various weapons,
such as a pellet gun or a pointed stick to catch them for the cooking pot.
During the 6- to 7-month dry season, the square land crabs are unseen, hiding in their burrows in the forests or wetlands. If they come out at all, it is at night, collecting leaf debris that they carry back to eat underground.
|And then finally it rains. They'll mate on the first rainfall, and by the next rain they'll come down to the ocean and release their eggs. In the area of La Boquita, the crabs will also lay their eggs in the lagoon, while living in the dense forest of mangroves. La Boquita has one of the safest and nicest swimming beaches in Manzanillo, bordered on one side by the the ocean, and on the other by the Juluapan Lagoon.|
|These crabs, also known as the red land crab, whitespot crab, Halloween
crab, mouthless crab, or harlequin land crab go
through stages before reaching adult form.
The eggs hatch into larvae call zoea that spend about a month in the ocean as tiny swimming plankton.
|They develop through a few successive zoea stages and then into a second swimming larval stage called megalopa and later into small juvenile crabs that move onto land, where they will mature into adults. Adults remain on land throughout their lives, which can be up to ten years, if they don't end up in the cooking pot.|
Should you decide that you, too, want to make some fresh crab soup, remember that those claws really pinch! Fernando Torres Gomez, of "El Pirata" Restaurant Bar, found out the hard way when he assisted the author by catching a crab for a photo. Another patron, removed the leash from her dog (pets are welcome at El Pirata), to try and hold Mr. Crab in place, but he quickly discarded the leash when he saw a chance to escape under the car. No crabs pictured in this article were harmed or eaten in the writing of this story!
La Boquita can be reached by traveling north on the Blvd. Miguel de la Madrid from the town of Santiago. Enter Club Santiago through the gate, and continue straight until the road turns to dirt. After going through the federal zone wetlands area, you'll come to numerous ramada-style thatched roof restaurants. The sea will be on your left. To visit with Maria and Fernando at the Pirata restaurant/bar (English spoken), look for a rustic place with Canadian, American, Mexican, and other flags in between the beach and the lagoon.