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(Latreille, 1804)

Diagnosis:
Antennular plate with 4 large spines arranged in a square; without scattered small spinules. Third maxilliped with an exopod provided with a flagellum. Transverse grooves of abdominal somites with straight margins, not crenulated, where interrupted, gradually narrowing towards middle of body, not ending abruptly.
Colour: abdominal somites: reddish, brownish, sometimes greenish, without transverse colour bands. A large eyespot of whitish or yellowish, surrounded by a dark colour is placed over the anterior end of the base of the pleura of abdominal somite 2,a similar, even slightly larger one in the anterolateral parts of somite 6. Tail fan with a broad transverse reddish band along or just before the posterior margin.

Type:
Type locality of Palinurus argus: unknown: "Je la soupçonne des Grandes-Indes", later corrected by Lamarck (1818) to "l'Océan du Bresil". Type material in MP: 3 possible syntypes from "Antilles", nos. Pa. 438, 439, 442 dry, in tolerable condition.
Type locality of Palinurus ricordi: "aux Antilles". Lectotype (dry specimen in reasonable condition) in ANSP, no. 207 (Guérin coll. no. 276).
Type locality of Palinurus americanus: "les Antilles". Syntypes in MP, possibly one, no. Pa. 443, left. "M. l'Herminier - Guadeloupe", a dryspecimen in tolerably good condition.

Geographical Distribution:
Western Atlantic: Bermuda and the east coast of USA at North Carolina, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, including the entire Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Reported twice from West Africa (Ivory Coast).

Habitat and Biology:
Inhabits shallow waters, occasionally down to 90 m depth, perhaps even deeper. Found among rocks, on reefs, in eelgrass beds or in any habitat that provides protection. The species is gregarious and migratory. Females move to deeper water for spawning and there are mass migrations in the autumn when the animals, in single files of up to 50 individuals, move in a certain direction in daytime, each animal having body contact with the next through the antennae. In the northern part of its range, larvae are found mainly from June to December.

Size:
Maximum body length about 45 cm, average length to about 20 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
This is the most important commercial Palinurid in American waters. It is fished practically throughout its range. The catches of this species reported in the FAO Yearbook of Fisheries Statistics amounted to 32 854 metric tons in 1987 and 33 903 metric tons in 1988, taken mainly by Cuba, Brazil, Bahamas, USA and Honduras. The species is mostly caught with traps, but also taken by hand, speared and trawled. It is marketed fresh; the tails are exported frozen or canned.

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus)