The Making of a Softshell Crab

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

IGOR chip- habitat 150To clarify, we are looking at the biological process through which a blue crab molts its shell, not recipes (feel free though, to share your favorites in the comments area).  I have to admit that before I started this project, I had thought that softshell crabs were a specific species, or group of species.  Of course, such a species wouldn’t survive very well in the wild.

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A molted blue crab carapace in a St. Joe Bay marsh.

The video outlines the mating process of a blue crab.  We had this footage of a female blue crab molting, obtained by WFSU-TV producer Mike Plummer.  In it, Leo Lovel explains the molting and how it fits in with the crab’s reproductive cycle.  Leo is a local restauranteur and author of Spring Creek Chronicles, a collection of stories of his days as a commercial fisherman.  Mike is producing a story on Leo’s books and experiences, and he got the molting footage as a little bonus while visiting Leo’s restaurant.

The molting footage (sped up- the process takes a few minutes) is augmented by some field footage of blue crabs in St. Joe Bay.  The day before I wanted us to finish editing this piece, I was in the Bay shooting Randall Hughes’ next piece when I saw these three crabs fighting to be with a fourth, larger crab.  This is the season in which they mate, and with Summer over there are less people and more animals out in the bay.  As photographer John Spohrer mentions in our interview with him, animals mating or feeding will let you get closer to them.

This is the first video edited by “In the Grass, On the Reef” intern Marlee Haynes.

Mike Plummer’s peice on Leo Lovel will air on WFSU-TV’s dimensions program- Wednesday, October 13 at 7:30 PM/ ET.

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About Rob Diaz de Villegas

Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for WFSU-TV, covering outdoors and ecology. Early in his television career, Rob focused on music production. After a couple of years of producing and editing Spanish and bilingual music video shows in San Antonio, Rob returned to Tallahassee in 2002 to resume production of his local music performance show, OutLoud. From that, he transitioned to local music documentaries, until one day he found himself standing in a muddy salt marsh with a camera, and his life was changed forever. Rob created this blog for a National Science Foundation funded marine biology project called In the Grass, On the Reef. No one asked Rob to expand on this work and cover all ecology in our area, but it seemed like a good thing to do. Subsequent projects under the Ecology Blog umbrella include EcoShakespeare (funded by WNET and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and Roaming the Red Hills (funded by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy). His most recent documentary follows the lives of four red wolf pups born at the Tallahassee Museum, apex predators that once hunted in our local wild spaces. Rob is married with two young sons, and they try to have outdoor family adventures as often as possible (you might see them on the blog from time to time).

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