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George, 1962

Diagnosis:
Antennular plate with a row of spinules behind the two large, widely separated, anterior spines. Exopod of third maxilliped present and with a flagellum.
Transverse groove of abdominal somites with straight margins, not crenulated. Transverse grooves of abdominal somites 2 to 4 join groove along anterior margin of corresponding pleuron. Abdominal somites with the grooves pubescent; a pubescent area on the dorsal surface of somites along the posterior margin. Anterior margin of pleura of abdominal somite two without distinct teeth.
Colour: pale to dark purplish brown. Abdomen with widely scattered small pale spots, which sometimes are hardly noticeable. Antennulae uniform in colour or with a pale longitudinal streak. Legs pale or dark brown with longitudinal streaks.

Type:
Type locality: "Radar Reef, Rottnest Island, Western Australia (32°00'S 115°30'E), in reef pool at depth of 1 metre". Holotype male in WAM, no. 90-62.

Geographical Distribution:
Indo-West Pacific region: restricted to Western Australia, namely on the west coast between Northwest Cape (21°48'S) and Hamelin Harbour (34°30'S) and at the offshore islands.

Habitat and Biology:
Found in depths between 0 and 90 m, rarely as deep as 120 m. The animals are nocturnal and shelter in the daytime in rock crevices and among coral. They undertake limited migrations. The species is omnivorous.

Size:
Maximum carapace length 14 cm, corresponding to a total body length of about 40 cm. Average between 8 and 10 cm carapace length. The carapace length of ovigerous females or those with spermatophores is 9 to 11 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
The fishery of this species is of major importance in Australia. According to FAO Yearbook of Fisheries Statistics the annual catches were 11 025 metric tons in 1987 and in 1988. The season used to extend from 15 November to 14 August, butwas reduced in 1978 from 15 November to 30 June. At the beginning of the season (November and December) the fishery takes the freshly moulted animals (the so-called "whites") which then leave the shallow reef areas. During the remaining part of the season, the "coastal red" lobsters are fished. The Abrolhos Islands are exceptional as the season starts there on 15 March. The fishing activities are concentrated between 24° and 35°S, and the largest yields are obtained between 28° and 32°S.
The fishery operates lobster traps of various design and divers take specimens by hand. Apart from the closed season there are several protective measures: a minimum size limit (cl. 7.5 cm), bag limit for sports fishermen, restriction of the size of the lobster pots, etc.
The species marketed fresh, but the greatest percentage is exported as frozen tails.

Australian spiny lobster (Panulirus cygnus)