Spiny Lobster—General Facts

    Commonly referred to as the Florida spiny lobster, the Caribbean spiny lobster inhabits
    tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Spiny
    lobsters get their name from the forward-pointing spines that cover their bodies to help protect
    them from predators. They vary in color from almost white to dark red-orange. Two large,
    cream-colored spots on the top of the second segment of the tail make spiny lobsters easy to
    identify. They have long antennae over their eyes that they wave to scare off predators and
    smaller antennae-like structures called antennules that sense movement and detect
    chemicals in the water.

    Adult spiny lobsters make their homes in the protected crevices and caverns of coral reefs,
    sponge flats, and other hard-bottomed areas. The lobsters spawn from March through August
    and female lobsters carry the bright orange eggs on their undersides until they turn brown and
    hatch. Larvae can be carried for thousands of miles by currents until they settle in shallow
    nearshore areas among seagrass and algae beds. They feed on small snails and crabs. The
    lobsters are solitary until they reach the juvenile stage, when they begin to congregate around
    protective habitat in nearshore areas. As they begin to mature, spiny lobsters migrate from the
    nursery areas to offshore reefs.

    Lobsters stay in their dens during daylight hours to avoid predators, emerging a couple of
    hours after dark to forage for food. While lobsters will eat almost anything, their favorite diet
    consists mostly of snails, clams, crabs, and urchins. The lobsters return to the safety of their
    dens several hours before sunrise.

    The recreational fishery for the spiny lobster begins in July with a two-day sport season. This
    season is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July each year. Regular spiny
    lobster season is August 6 through March 31.

    It takes a spiny lobster about two years to grow to the three-inch carapace legal-harvesting
    size and they can grow as large as 15 pounds. The typical recreational harvest is 1.5 to 2
    million pounds between the start of the two-day sport season and Labor Day. The commercial
    harvest averages 6 million pounds per season, with an average annual value of $20 million.
    Measured in dollars, the spiny lobster fishery is the largest commercial fishery in Florida.Parts
    of the Spiny Lobster

    the "tail" of the lobster; includes the large tail muscle covered with a segmented shell, the
    swimmerets, telson, and uropod

    the very long, whip-like structures attached just below the eyes

    much smaller than the antennae, thin and flexible, extend forward from under the eyes

    female lobster carrying eggs under the tail is "in berry."

    the hard shell covering the cephalothorax

    the last segment of a walking leg farthest from body; typically short and pointed

    independent early stage of an animal, typically very tiny and bearing no resemblace to the adult

    the thick crushing "teeth" portion of the mouth

    the tiny, ocean-going lobster larvae that have hatched from eggs


    a specialized larvae between the phyllosome stage and juvenile lobsters that lack mouth
    parts and swim from offshore areas to shallow nursery areas

    the fan-shaped structure at the end of the tail, made up of the uropods and telson

    the central part of the tail fan, somewhat rectangular in shape

    the central part of the body to which the walking legs are attached

    the outer, triangular sections of the tail fan; in lobsters two sections on either side of the telson
Caribbean Spiny Lobster - Florida Spiny Lobster
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