he beautiully marked Caribbeanspiny lobster has long been a avoriteFlorida seaood and is one o ourmost important sheries. As a result,marine conservation laws have beenimplemented to protect this valuablespecies rom being overexploited, andmanagement eorts are continuallybeing examined to ensure thesustainability o this shery.
The Caribbean spiny lobster (
) is acrustacean closely related to crabs, shrimp, andcraysh. Common names or this lobster includecraysh, crawsh, langosta, and Florida lobster. Thereare about 12 species o lobster in Florida; Caribbeanspiny lobsters are by ar the largest and most abundant.They vary rom whitish to a dark red-orange. The twolarge, cream-colored spots on top o the secondsegment o the tail section are the diagnostic eaturesor identiying this species. There are also two smallercream-colored spots adjacent to the tail an. Spinylobsters lack the large, distinctive, crushing claws otheir northern cousins, the American lobster.The name “spiny” comes rom the strong, orward-curving spines projecting rom the hard shell that coversthe body and antennae o the lobster. The spines act asprotection rom predators and canpresent a hazard to anyone handling theanimal without wearing gloves. Thereare two large prominent spines,sometimes called horns, above theeyes.A spiny lobster’s body has twomain parts: the cephalothorax (headsection) and the abdomen (tail section).The cephalothorax comprises the head,a cape-like carapace or shell, themouthparts, antennae, antennules(smaller antennae-like structures), and ten walkinglegs. Spiny lobsters wave their long, spiny antennaelike whips or ghting and deense. They use the shorterantennules to sense movement and detect chemicalsin the water. The lobster’s mouth, located on theunderside o and toward the ront o the cephalothorax,is surrounded by large, heavy structures calledmandibles, or jaws, and by maxillipeds, or accessoryjaws. Both sets o jaws are used or biting and grindingood and directing it into the mouth.The abdomen, or tail section, is narrower than thecephalothorax. The shell covering the tail section isdivided into six ring-like segments, and each segmentends in a spine on each side. Under the tail are ourpairs o small lea-like structures called pleopods (orswimmerets). The tail ends in a fat, fexible an with abroad center section—the telson—and has two lobes
Mysterious Crustaceanof the Caribbean
Craysh, Crawsh, Langosta, and Florida Lobster
Maximum size approximately 9–10 inches carapace length (15–20 pounds)
In the tropical and subtropical waters o the South Atlantic, Gul o Mexico, and theCaribbean Sea
Hardbottom, seagrass, and coral rees o South Florida and Caribbean
August 6 to March 31; sport season or recreational harvest during the lastWednesday and successive Thursday o July o each year.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation CommissionFish and Wildlife Research Institute