World Wetlands Day 2008 -- United States


Environmental Concern Inc introduced a creative writing competition with a twist. Students in grades 8 -12 in the U.S. and its territories were challenged to write a creative wetland recipe. Here’s the twist, the recipe was written for a specific wetland organism living in one of the twenty-two U.S. Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance. In addition to the recipe, students had to research the Ramsar site and animal, and write an informative paragraph. The winning recipes will be compiled into electronic recipe cards and posted on Environmental Concern’s website at For more information about the program, please contact Bronwyn Mitchell, Education Director at

A Winning Recipe:

“Fiddler Crab Cakes”
Ramsar Site: Pelican Island NWR, FL
Animal: Fiddler Crab

Tartar sauce
3 cups detritus
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons algae
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mixed microbes
¼ teaspoon fungus
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter
Lemon wedges


Break up detritus with claws in large bowl; mix in all remaining ingredients except butter, Tartar sauce and lemon wedges. Pinch mixture into 8 portions. Place four portions onto a medium heated, buttered sand dollar. With big claw, flatten each portion into a patty. Fry patties until golden on underside; turn and brown other sides. Keep patties warm in mud burrow and repeat with other 4 portions. Serve cakes with Tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

Serves: 4. Perfect for a whole cast of crabs!

Ramsar Passage:

The Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is located on the east central coast of Florida and was originally called the Indian River Lagoon before it became America’s first wildlife refuge with President Theodore Roosevelt’s Consent in 1903. The Wetlands are a home to “thriving bird rookeries”, and they became well known with German immigrant Paul Kroegel’s homestead guarding of the native birds. Pelican Island’s ecosystems are quite diverse since the refuge lies between both temperate and subtropical zones. The wetlands include sea grass beds, salt marshes, mangrove trees, and maritime hammocks.

The Fiddler Crab (Uca pugnax) lives amongst the wetlands of Pelican Island and typically feeds on algae, microbes, fungus, and detritus, which is decaying plant and animal matter. Although this decaying matter comes from dead animals and marsh plants it is capable of providing the essential nutrients the crabs need. Fiddler crabs generally dig burrows down in the mud and sometimes construct intricate tunnel systems to avoid predators, such as fish, raccoons, and water birds. In order to mate or challenge competitors, male fiddler crabs often use claw waving, which serves as a form of arm-wrestling to show strength and dominance. The crabs also molt their shells when they grow, and at times have to hide away in their tunnels when they are “soft-shelled.”

My recipe is appropriate because it incorporates the essentials of the fiddler crab’s diet into a much sweeter, more delectable cake, which therefore will provide the crab with not only sufficient nutrients, but also a tasty delicacy.

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