Spiny Lobster

Caribbean Spiny Lobster. Photo credit Hans Leijnse: SHAPE/DCNASpiny Lobsters (Palinuridae) are a family of lobsters that do not possess the large pinching claws of the typical American Lobster (Homarus americanus). Instead, they have two very long and thick antennas that they use to defend themselves. Spiny Lobsters are named after the many spines that cover their body.

The Dutch Caribbean islands are home to three species of Spiny Lobster: the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus), the Smooth Tail Spiny Lobster (Panulirus laevicauda) (both known on the ABC islands as Krèf), and the Spotted Spiny Lobster (Panulirus guttatus) (known on the ABC islands as Krèf Spanjó).

The Caribbean Spiny Lobster has a striped, orange-brown body with white spots on the carapace and tail. Its head and legs have a bluish tint. The Smooth Tail Spiny Lobster is known to co-exist with the Caribbean Lobster and has an orange-brown body and legs with a greenish tint. The Spotted Spiny Lobster has a brownish and green body with white spots that cover both its body and legs.

Spiny Lobsters are nocturnal. During the day, they like to hide under some sort of cover, which is why they are typically found in reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and under piers in harbours. The Spotted Spiny Lobster is a unique species in that it only inhabits reefs, especially the fore reef, and typically stays in one small area of the reef for its entire life.

caribbean-spiny-lobsterSpiny Lobsters come out to feed at night, usually on slow-moving invertebrates such as crabs, snails, sea urchins, worms and clams. They are also known to eat dead and decaying organisms. They use contact and chemoreception to find food, and bring prey into their mouth with their front legs.

The Caribbean Spiny Lobster is not yet listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List but many believe it is just a matter of time because this lobster is a very popular seafood and is therefore fished heavily. It is listed in Annex III of SPAW, which means that countries party to the SPAW Protocol must take special measures to ensure the protection and recovery of the Spiny Lobster whist regulating the use of the species. Spiny Lobsters receive special protection within the marine protected areas of our islands, where fishing of Spiny Lobsters is strictly controlled.