Hello, my avid readers, welcome to a new blog all about Slipper Lobsters.
Slipper Lobsters are part of the family of about 90 species of Achelata crustaceans. Achelata derives from the fact that all members of this group lack the chelae (claw) that are found on almost all other decapods. Scyllaridae is the family name for a group of the so-called Slipper Lobsters. The family is a type of large, relatively flat, lobster-like crustaceans. Scyllarides latus is the species commonly found in the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic Ocean. It is edible and highly regarded as food but is now rare over much of its range, due to overfishing.
This species can grow to a total body length of about 45cm although rarely more than 30cm. As in all slipper lobsters, the second pair of antennae are enlarged and flattened into ‘shovels’ or ‘flippers. Despite the name ‘lobster’, slipper lobsters such as the Scyllarides latus, have no claws and no protective spines of the spiny lobster. For defence, their exoskeleton and in particular the carapace (carapace is the upper section of the exoskeleton or shell in a number of animal groups, including arthropods such as crustaceans and arachnids) are thicker than in clawed lobsters acting as resilient armour. Adults are cryptically coloured (the use of any combination of materials, colouration, or illumination for concealment) and the carapace is covered in conspicuous, high tubercles (round nodules or warty growths found on external organs of a plant or animal).
Scyllarides latus live on rocky or sandy substrates at depths of 4 -100 metres. They shelter during the day in natural dens, on the ceilings of caves or within the reef. Whilst you are out diving, take a torch and look under and around boulders and in crevices of the reef walls you never know what’s hiding.
The fossil record of slipper lobsters extends back 100 – 120 million year, which is considerably less than that of the slipper lobsters’ closest relatives, the spiny lobsters. One significant earlier fossil is Cancrinos claviger, which was described from the Upper Jurassic sediments at least 142 million years ago and may represent either an ancestor of modern slipper lobsters or the sister group to the family Scyllaridae sensu stricto.
One of the great things I like about the slipper lobster family is that can be easily photographed. They are better taken at night as this is the time they are out feeding. During the day, as previously stated, they will be tucked into crevices of the reef. All lobster images are my own.
This is a Scyllarus arctus. It being a much smaller lobster which also lives in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic.
Hope you have learnt a little about these endearing creatures. Join us and maybe you too will get to see a Slipper Lobster. For a greater chance to catch a glimpse of one, why not join us on a night dive or better still complete your night dive speciality. For more information contact Divewise at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by: Sarah Shaw