Spiny lobsters are large crustaceans that resemble true lobsters, but lack the distinctive large claws. They also have much more prominent, thick antennae. Spiny lobsters are not closely related to the true lobsters despite the similar appearance, though both are crustaceans in the order Decapoda.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum – Arthropoda
Subphylum - Crustacea
Class – Malacostraca
Order – Decapoda
Family – Palinuridae
Genera & Species – 12 genera (Jasus, Justitia, Linuparus, Nupalirus, Palibythus, Palinurellus, Palinurus, Palinustus, Panulirus, Projasus, Puerulus, Sagmariasus), 60 species
Common Names – Spiny Lobster, Langusta, Langouste, Rock Lobster, Sea Crayfish, Crawfish, Kreef (South Africa)
Spiny lobsters are found in warm oceans throughout the world. They are hard shelled crustaceans with long, thick antennae. They have ten legs and a segmented tail, and their carapaces typically have knobs and spines which give them their common name.
Females carry eggs outside of their exoskeleton for between one and six months before they hatch, depending on species. The larvae are microscopic at birth, eventually molting and traveling to coral reefs where they settle in a hole or crevice.
Spiny Lobsters live in crevices and caves on coral reefs and mangrove swamps, feeding on snails, clams, crabs and sea urchins. They are social creatures who occasional go on migrations, traveling single file in lines of up to 50 lobsters or more.
Spiny lobsters have been found in the fossil record dating back over 100 million years. These crustaceans are popular food animals and are caught throughout their range. In the United States, Caribbean spiny lobsters are caught in Florida during designated seasons.
The 12 genera of spiny lobster are widespread throughout the world in warm oceans, but specific data on threat of extinction is difficult to come by. Like most creatures of the sea, they face the threat of climate change altering their habitat. Overfishing is another potential concern, though many fisheries are currently regulated to keep numbers sustainable.