SUNCOAST - Stone Crab season on the Suncoast has been more like stone cold. The culprit seems to be the usual suspect. Even as other businesses on the Suncoast recover from red tide, the algae is blamed for a miserable, nearly completed crab season.

Danny Barrett, the crab cook at A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez says he normally would get 800 – 900 pound catches, but this season 50 to 60 pounds was the norm, and he had to work longer days just to get that haul.

Experts say crabs exposed to high concentrations of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, for a prolonged time become stressed, stop eating and die.

Stone crabs increased $3 or sometimes $4 per pound, but customers were still willing to pay for them.

Customers paid more, but some crabbers sacrificed the season completely as they gave up when the crabs were hard to come by.

Stone crab season closes Thursday (May 16) and will reopen Oct. 15 to conserve what crabs are left.