Nature never runs out of surprises. In fact, it is full of absolutely breathtaking creatures. The tropical rock lobster, also identified as Panulirus ornatus, is one such striking ocean creature that has been bred in captivity successfully. This large spiny lobster is edible and it has 11 larval stages. These creatures live in shallow depths across a wide area in the Indo-Pacific, no deeper than 50m. In most areas, these lobsters are caught by netting or spearing. In Northeast Australia, however, a commercial fishery has operated since 1996. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority regulates the harvesting of tropical rock lobsters.
These striking animals consume various invertebrates such as bivalves, gastropods, and crustaceans. They gain energy from carotenoids, especially astaxanthin. In addition, they use carotenoids for many functional benefits including post-larval development, reproductive success, and stress resistance. These creatures gain a relatively small of energy from blue and green-lipped mussels as well.
Every August, these lobsters migrate from the Torres Strait to Yule Island in the Gulf of Papua. This is for breeding. During this time period, ovary development, mating, and initial oviposition take place. Larval releases occur at the end of the migration. Mating males tend to be greater in size than females, with the carapace lengths of males and females ranging from 100-150 mm and 90-120 mm respectively. The majority of the breeding adults are three years old and their mortality rates increase after breeding. So, if you find them interesting, check out the pics below and share your thoughts with us in the comments.