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Monday, July 10, 2017

Caribbean Spiny Lobster

Photo Credit: Stemonitis
The Caribbean spiny lobster is one of the largest crustaceans on coral reefs and seagrass beds in the Caribbean Sea and adjacent waters and is one of the most valuable fishery resources for every country throughout its range. Along with true crabs, prawns, and other lobsters, the Caribbean spiny lobster is a decapod; it has ten legs. It is covered with a spiny exoskeleton that provides it some protection from potential predators, but it remains the favorite prey of many species, including nurse sharks and Nassau groupers.

During the day, Caribbean spiny lobsters remain hidden in caves, under ledges, and in crevices on the reef surface. During the twilight hours and at night, individuals are much more active and forage along the reef for small snails and crabs, decaying organic matter, and some plants. Caribbean spiny lobsters will eat most things that they find. Unlike the famous Maine lobster, Caribbean spiny lobsters do not have enlarged front claws and are harmless to people.

Spiny lobsters get their name for the small spikes covers their carapace (exoskeleton). Males and females are the same size but the male’s exoskeleton is longer. Adult Caribbean Spiny Lobsters have two long antennae that are longer than their carapace. Small antennae that are shorter and about two-thirds of their body length. Two large eyes are at the front of their heads, pleopods which are forked legs that aid them when swimming. Spiny lobsters have small claws unlike Maine lobsters which have large claws.

Did you know?
Spiny lobsters reproduce in spring and summer. Females carry the bright orange eggs on the underside of the tail until the eggs are ready to hatch.

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