California Spiny Lobster

California Spiny Lobster Panulirus interruptus

Type of Animal:
Spiny Lobster

Rocky substrates/areas at depths of up to 240 ft, tide pools, shorelines, crevices in rocky areas, rocky areas w/ lots of surfgrass/eelgrass/coralline algae/large brown kelp, seagrass areas, kelp forests, surfgrass areas, surfgrass beds, coastal rubble beds, rocky reef caves, rocky reef shelters, juveniles/egg-carrying females found in shallower areas than other adults

Found from C California to W Mexico

Large spiny lobster w/ 2 large spiny antennae (twice length of body), no large claws on legs, upper side brownish red to red to reddish-orange lacking pale banding/spotting, brownish red legs w/ lighter tinging, sharp spiny projections along upper shell/tail sides

Sea urchins, mussels, clams, worms, carrion, detritus, snails, crabs, sea hares, algae, fish

Status in Wild:

Sustainable fishing of these animals. Having certain seasons to catch these animals. Special protection for egg-laying females & molting lobsters.

Groups of 2-84 lobsters

Additional Info:

Male: Bull/Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Phyllosoma
Group: Pod
Male: 4-12 lbs
Female: 2-5 lbs
2.5 months 

Life Span:
Females: 20-40 years
Males: 30-75 years

Body Length:
Male: 1-2 ft
Female: 0.8-1 ft

Antenna Length:
Male: 2-4 ft
Female: 1.6-2 ft

Main predators are California sheephead, giant sea bass, cabezon, leopard sharks, horn sharks, octopus, sea otters, California moray eels, rockfish, & kelp bass.
Males place putty-like spermatophore on female’s sternum during mating.
Females lay 50,000-1,600,000 eggs per clutch w/ larger females having larger clutches.
Spermatophore can remain in place for months, allowing females to store sperm until eggs fully developed & ready to be fertilized. These plastered females most abundant from January-May w/ egg laying most abundant around this time.
Eggs usually hatch from June-early October.
When eggs hatch, larvae go through 11 different development stages w/ planktonic stages for 1st 7-8 months of life. Then they enter puerulus stage where they’re not quite juveniles but past planktonic stage. Juvenile stage starts at around 11-12 months old. Maturity reached at 3-5 years old. Males reach maturity before females.
Active at night (nocturnal).
To keep growing, they must molt exoskeleton once a year in fall. Much more vulnerable to predators during this time.
Important in keeping populations of sea urchins down.

Fun Fact(s):
Instead of claws, they use spiny body & powerful bite as defense.
When threatened by predator, they’ll flex tail to escape backwards & emit loud violin-like rasping sound from antennae.

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