Southern Rock LobsterCommon names: Crayfish, crays
Southern rock lobsters are predominantly red in colour, being darker red in shallower waters to almost white in very deep waters.
The southern rock lobster is one of only two species of the family Jasus found in Tasmanian waters, the other being the rarely-seen eastern rock lobster which is predominantly green in colour.
Rock lobster grow to more than 22cms in carapace length and more than 5kg in weight and can live beyond 20 years. They are found around Tasmania on rocky reefs from 0 to 200m depth.
Female lobsters mate shortly after shedding their shells (moulting) in autumn. Almost immediately after mating, the female extrudes her eggs which are brooded under the tail for the next four months.
After hatching, the young larvae, known as phyllosoma, swim to the surface and undergo a series of complicated life stages for a period between 9 months and 2 years. These larvae can travel many thousands of kilometres during this time before the final larval stage, known as the puerulus stage, settles on a reef.
Rock lobsters are highly sought after by recreational fishers who use pots, diving and rings to catch this species.
Popular baits used in pots and rings include fish heads and frames and occasionally raw meats.
Rock lobsters are opportunistic carnivores consuming species such as mussels, abalone, sea urchins, crabs and worms.
Predators of rock lobster include octopus, sharks, and fish species such as wrasse, ling and cod.
Rock lobster flesh is firm and white and is considered a delicacy, however some people are allergic to this meat and may become quite ill after consumption.
Care needs to be exercised when handling rock lobsters as they are armed with very sharp spines around the base of their antennae capable of inflicting a painful wound that can quickly become infected.
More information on fishing rules for southern rock lobster.
Illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe
Tasmania Online | Service Tasmania
This page - http://www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/WebPages/LVAE-57G5TN?open - was last published on 26 November 2013 by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. Questions concerning its content can be sent to Internet Coordinator by using the feedback form, by mail to GPO Box 44, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7001, or by telephone.
Please read our disclaimer and copyright statements governing the information we provide on this site.
A text version of this page is also available.