Celebrate National Lobster Day
June 15th is National Lobster Day, a time set aside for celebrating the messy tradition of eating lobsters. At CMA, we thought this is the perfect time to recognize our local lobster living along Southern California: the one and only California spiny lobster.
Lobsters are famous for their claws, but that distinctive feature applies to the east coast lobster, Homarus americanus, commonly known as the American lobster and found on dinner plates across the nation. The California spiny lobster or Panulirus interruptus doesn't have claws.
Instead of claws, the California spiny lobster possesses strong mandibles that serve as teeth, perfect for chomping sea urchins, clams, mussels and barnacles. The head of the spiny lobster is accented by two long antennae used for sensing the dark ocean floor and the body and antennae are covered with sharp spines to ward off predators.
California spiny lobsters brighten the ocean floor with their red exoskeleton, the more accurate term for their shell. (American lobsters sport a bluish exterior until turning red after being boiled in a pot.) The lobster's shell serves as a protective shield and is completely inflexible. In order to grow a lobster must cast off its shell, a process referred to as molting, and then develop a bigger shell to replace the old one.
Molting seems to work well for California spiny lobsters because they can grow to weigh as much as 25 to 30 pounds. According to data collected by the Department of Fish and Game, the largest lobster weighed in at 26 pounds and was caught by a diver off the coast near San Pedro, most likely in the 1940s.
After decades of commercial and recreational lobster fishing, monster sized lobsters are very rare and this hurts lobster populations reproductively. The largest female lobsters have the capacity to produce exponentially larger amounts of eggs and offspring than small lobsters. This is a common trait among many ocean species. In the ocean, size matters.
Now lobsters and other ocean animals can live in safe places where they have the chance to become really big: marine protected areas. As required by the Marine Life Protection Act, California established a network of underwater parks along the coast where ocean animals can thrive without human interference.
On National Lobster Day, take time to learn about an underwater park near you by visiting the California Department of Fish and Game's website. These special places give mature female lobsters the chance to have lots of babies and ensure there are many more generations of California spiny lobsters hanging out in rock crevices along Southern California's coast.
The California spiny lobster can be found at the Aquarium in tanks numbers 13 and 21 and in the touch tank.
California Spiny Lobster Size and Fecundity
Post Date: Thursday, June 14, 2012