Caribbean spiny lobster are a bottom-dwelling species that live on reefs and in mangrove swamps in the Western Atlantic from North Carolina to Brazil. Unlike American lobsters, spiny lobster have no claws and are distinguished by their long, spiny antennae which are typically longer than their body. Also known as crawfish, these crustaceans start life as larvae and develop by regularly shedding their shell and growing a new, larger one. During this vulnerable molting period, lobster hide in rocky, creviced habitat.
Spiny lobster have long, cylindrical bodies coved with spines. They are usually olive green or brown with some yellowish sponts on their carapace and abdomen. Their legs are striped with blue and yellow lines and terminate in a single spine-like point. The size, colour and flavour of spiny lobster vary depending on the season, local habitat, water temperature, nutrients, feed and other ecological factors. Just as terroir gives wine its particular character, the natural marine environment—or “meroir”—of a region imparts unique qualities to local lobster.
To reach maturity, a lobster must defy remarkable odds. A female lobster spawns millions of eggs that hatch into free-floating larvae. The larvae are extremely vulnerable at this early stage since they are feed for many fish species. After approximately six to 14 months, the tiny lobsters (only six to 15 mm in length) take shelter among the marine vegetation and mangroves within shallow bay and lagoon habitats, feeding on available small prey. After a few months, juvenile lobsters move into crevices and as they mature they move to deeper water. Their diet is mainly composed of molluscs and vegetable material, but they also feed on dead animals and fishes they find on the bottom of the sea. The period of major vulnerability is during the molt when they shed their exterior shell and before the new one hardens. They grown up to 60 cm long, but average about 20 cm.
This fishery uses wooden and wire traps submerged on the seafloor to catch lobster. The traps attract lobster with bait and capture them live.
Mangrove Crab HarvesterCanavieiras, Brazil
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