Everyone knows that spiny lobsters make a delicious dinner, but few know much about the interesting lives of these creatures. Some interesting facts about these popular invertebrates:
Spiny lobsters are nocturnal and emerge from their hiding spots during the night to forage on their favorite foods including crabs, clams, and other invertebrates.
Spiny lobsters reproduce in spring and summer. Females carry bright orange eggs on the underside of the tail.
Spiny lobsters have two large antennae. They are used for fighting and defense, and two smaller antennules, which are sensory organs that can detect chemicals and movement in the water.
To harvest a spiny lobster, it must have a carapace length of at least three inches. This indicates the lobster is about two years old and likely reached sexual maturity. More information on harvesting lobsters.
As it grows, a spiny lobster molts and loses its hard protective exoskeleton. After molting, the lobster is soft-bodied and very vulnerable to predators for about two days until its new, larger exoskeleton forms over its growing body.
Once hatched, the larvae travel long distances as plankton in currents before settling in shallow water nursery habitats.
Biscayne National Park provides a variety of habitats for spiny lobsters including seagrass meadows and algal beds for youngsters and patch reefs and ledges for more mature lobsters.
Because larvae travel such great distances as plankton before settling, the lobsters that you see in the park probably originated as larvae from the West Indies or the Gulf of Mexico.
The spiny lobster (panulirus argus) is the most common lobster observed in the park.
Puerulus is the term used to describe the free-swimming phase that moves out of the plankton and into benthic habitats.
As spiny lobsters mature, they migrate from the inshore nursery habitats to offshore reefs.