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.
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.
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.
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.