Spiny Lobster
Panulirus interruptus

Physical Description

  • Ten-legged crustacean with no prominent front claws
  • Long antennae twice the length of body
  • Sharp, shiny projections along upper shell and sides of tail
  • Red to orange shell
  • Very strong jaws that deliver powerful bite

Range

  • Monterey Bay, California to Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico
  • Highest abundance off central Baja California

Habitat

  • Lower rocky intertidal zones
  • Up to depths of 230 feet
  • Often found with large kelp and surf grass
  • Often concealed during the day, many lobsters in a single rocky crevice; they feed right after sunset

Diet

  • Omnivorous scavengers
  • Scavenge dead animals, detritus, and algae
  • They eat mussels, urchins, coralline algae, fish, and echinoderms

Predators

  • Octopuses, California sheephead, cabezon, kelp bass, California moray eels, horn sharks, leopard sharks, giant sea bass, and multiple types of rockfish. 
  • Humans also fish for them. 

Interesting Facts

  • To scare off competitors and predators, the Pacific spiny lobster will move their antennae in a large sweeping motion and make an alarming grating noise by rubbing their antennae against a file-like eyespot
  • To escape from predators, spiny lobsters swim backwards with a flip of the tail. If caught by a predator, they will also self-autotomize, or purposely lose a limb or antennae, to escape! 
  • Can crawl in every direction!
  • Spiny lobsters can regenerate a lost leg or antennae during each molt

Sources: California Sea Grant; AnimalDiversity.org

Photo: Nate Baker

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