California Spiny Lobster
(Panulirus interruptus) Appearance: This lobster is generally red to orange in color with spiny projections to stud its carapace (upper shell) and the sides of its tail. It also has two antennae in the front which are twice the length of its body. Unlike most lobsters, the CA Spiny one doesn’t have any front claws. Size: They can grow up to two feet in length across its carapace and the largest one ever recorded was 28 pounds. They can also grow to be 25 to 50 years old. Where to Find them: In the San Diego area, spiny lobsters can be found along the sand and mud bottoms, in crevices along the canyon’s ledges, under overhangs from 15 to 1000 feet deep, and sometimes they might be sitting out in the open on rocks and surf grass. In the world, they range from San Luis Obispo, California to Rosalia Bay, Baja California. What they Eat: The California Spiny Lobster tends to eat plants, small animals, and decaying matter. What Eats them: A number of animals prey on the lobster. Among them are: octopi (i.e. Two-Spotted Octopus), large fish (i.e. Gummy Sharks, Leopard Sharks, Southern Rock Cod, Flathead, Wrasse, and Morwong), Conger Eels, Lingcod, Bat Rays, and Humans. Reproduction: The California Spiny Lobster mates during the winter and early springtime. During the mating the male deposits a sperm pack on the underside of the female. Behavior: This lobster is a nocturnal creature and is often found in groups of three to six. They are also a scavenger animal and moves its antennae in a sweeping motion to scare away other animals, enemies and other animals who are attracted to its prey. If this sweeping motion doesn’t scare them away, they can also make an alarming grating noise from the structure at the base of each antenna. A lobster has compound eyes, each carried at the end of a movable stalk. Their eyes are separated into many facets and is allows them to see a mosaic of many images instead of one set image. Although this prevents the lobster from seeing too clearly, it allows it to detect movement very well. Lobsters also grow via a process called molting. This is when they shed their exoskeleton in order to grow. The old exoskeleton becomes too tight for the lobster and then it splits in half where the main body meets the tail and the lobster crawls out. This is when the lobster is very vulnerable and doesn’t have any armor until they are able to grow a new one. When they are juveniles a lobster molts several times a year whereas once they mature into an adult they only molt once a year. Humans: Humans catch the California Spiny Lobster for sport and commercial uses. Other Facts:
- They are commonly nicknamed “bugs” by divers because their shell and antennae resemble a very large cockroach.
- They can become a source of food preservation in the future. A scientist has created a preservative gel from chitin (the material that makes crustaceans’ shells hard) and coated apples with it. The apples stayed fresh for more than six months.