Juvenile spiny lobster in hand

View larger image

Locally referred to as Florida lobster, the Caribbean spiny lobster inhabits tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. For 30 years, our biologists have counted the number of new spiny lobster settling on lobster collectors during every new moon to estimate the number coming to the Florida Keys. These floating artificial habitats mimic the natural red algae the very small lobsters prefer. This lobster settled on a collector as a postlarva and molted into a juvenile just before we sampled it. This long-term study helps researchers assess the overall health of the spiny lobster fishery in the Florida Keys.