Spiny Lobster | WWF

Spiny Lobster

© wwf Nicaragua
Scientific Names:
Panulirus argus
 
Habitat:
Coral reefs and seagrass beds; shallow waters to a depth of 90m or more.
 
IUCN Endangered Status:
Data deficient
© Antonio Busiello

OVERVIEW

Spiny lobsters are clawless, nocturnal crustaceans that live in the coral reefs and waters of the MAR.  They are known to migrate in large groups in long files of lobsters across the sea floor. These lines may be more than 50 lobsters long.  Spiny lobster is a popular source of seafood consumed by the communities in the MAR.  As a valuable species, artisanal and commercial fishers catch lobster to sell in local and regional markets.  Spiny lobsters forage on algae, snails, crabs and other bottom dwelling organisms.  Their presence is an indicator of reef health and biodiversity.

THREATS

©: WWF

UNSUSTAINABLE FISHING PRACTICES, INCLUDING OVERFISHING

Spiny lobsters play an important role in the economy and consumption of coastal communities in the MAR.   They are captured commercially and recreationally for food.  Fishers, competing to bring in sufficient catch, often catch juvenile and egg-bearing female lobsters, disrupting reproductive cycles for the species.  Also, over-exploitation has caused declines in populations throughout the MAR.

©: WWF

DISEASES

Spiny lobsters are sensitive to diseases.  Because of their tendencies to move together in large groups, a sickness that initially affects one lobster can be detrimental to multiple individuals.  As ecosystem conditions shift, lobsters can become vulnerable to the changes, making them more susceptible to disease.

©: WWF

CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change affect spiny lobster populations as reef ecosystems shift due to increases in extreme storms and in water temperatures.  Climate change-related shifts can also affect the food chain upon which lobsters depend.

WHAT WWF IS DOING

  • Conducting spiny lobster Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) in Honduras and Nicaragua.
  • Preliminary stock analyses of spiny lobster in Honduras.
  • Conducted a spiny lobster traceability pilot project in Honduras and Nicaragua, with support from USAID’s Regional Program for Management of Aquatic Resources and Economic Alternatives. 
  • Research on critical habitats for spiny lobster to identify MPA placement.

PHOTO GALLERY

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

  • Practice responsible consumption of lobster: Pay attention to legal catch sizes and sources of lobster.