Juan Fernández rock lobster are a bottom-dwelling species that are found only in the Juan Fernández Archipelago and the Islas Desventuradas off the coast of Chile. Unlike American lobsters, these spiny lobster have no claws and are distinguished by their long, spiny antennae which are typically longer than their body. These lobster start life as larvae and develop by regularly shedding their shell and growing a new, larger one.
Rock lobsters have long, cylindrical bodies covered with spines. This species ranges in color from light gray to a vivid orange, and grow as big as seven kilograms and as old as 100 years of age. Their legs terminate in a single spine-like point. As with other members of the spiny lobster family, they lack the giant claws seen in the American lobster. Juan Fernández lobster have a delicate taste, and are often served grilled with spices or prepared locally as a casserole called "Perol."
To reach maturity, a lobster must defy remarkable odds. A female lobster spawns thousands 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 nine to 12 mm in length) take shelter among the marine vegetation in shallow waters, feeding on available small prey. After a few months, juvenile lobsters move into deeper water as they mature. Their diet is mainly composed of algae, small mollusks, small crustaceans, fish eggs, larvae, freshly killed fish and younger lobsters. The period of major vulnerability is during the molt when they shed their exterior shell and before the new one hardens. They grow up to 100 cm long, but average about 30 cm or 700 to 750 grams (1.5 lbs).
This fishery uses wooden traps submerged on the seafloor to catch lobster. The traps attract lobster with bait and capture them live.
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