Many visitors to Biscayne National Park know that spiny lobsters make a delicious dinner, but few know much about the interesting lives of these creatures. Read on to learn some interesting facts about one of the most popular invertebrates in Biscayne National Park.
- Spiny Lobster, also known as Panulirus argus, is the most common lobster observed in Biscayne National Park
- Spiny lobsters must have a carapace length of 3 inches to be legally harvestable; a lobster with a 3-inch carapace is about two years old and has probably just reached sexual maturity. Click here for more information on harvesting lobsters.
- 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.
- Once hatched, the larvae will travel long distances as plankton in currents before settling into shallow water nursery habitats.
- Puerulus is the term used to describe the free-swimming phase that moves out of the plankton and into benthic habitats.
- Biscayne National Park provides a variety of habitats for the many stages of spiny lobsters, including seagrass meadows and algal beds for pueruli and juveniles and patch reefs and ledges for sub-adults and adults. Click here to learn more about the Biscayne Bay - Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary.Using a collection unit known as a Witham device, biologists at Biscayne National Park monitor the monthly settlement pulses of pueruli and juvenile lobsters into Biscayne Bay.
- Because spiny lobster larvae travel such great distances as plankton before settling, the lobsters that you see in Biscayne National Park probably originated as larvae from the West Indies or the Gulf of Mexico.
- As spiny lobsters mature, they migrate from the inshore nursery habitats to the offshore reefs.
- As it grows, a spiny lobster molts, or loses its hard protective exoskeleton (carapace). 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.
- 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 have two large antennae, which are used for fighting and defense, and two smaller antennules, which are sensory organs that can detect chemicals and movement in the water.
Please click here to access a report summarizing ten years of lobster harvest data from Lobster Mini-Season