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(Linnaeus, 1758)

Diagnosis:
Antennular plate with four equal, large, well separated spines, arranged in a square with additional very small spinules scattered in between. Exopod of third maxilliped absent. Anterior margin of transverse groove of abdominal somites crenulated. Groove itself either complete or interrupted in the middle.
Colour: body dark green or reddish brown, finely spotted with white. No distinct bands of light colour on the abdomen. A light anterior spot at the base of the abdominal pleura. Antennulae banded. Legs rather uniform in colour, sometimes with faint, longitudinal streaks.

Type:
Type locality of Cancer homarus: "Habitat in Mari Asiatico". Lectotype is the specimen figured by Rumphius (1705, Amboinsche Rariteitkamer: pl. 1 fig. A). The figure was drawn in Holland, as Rumphius had not provided an illustration himself. As noted in Rumphius' book (1705:3) the figure was prepared after a specimen in the collection of Henricus d'Acquet, then burgomaster of Delft. The specimen is now lost, but d'Acquet's collection of water colours of this material is still extant and held by the Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen (Royal Institute for the Tropics, formerly Colonial Institute) in Amsterdam. The figure of the lectotype of Cancer homarus has the following legend "9: Augusti 1698: Astacus Maximus Ambonensis egregie coloratus". The type locality of Cancer homarus thus definitely is Amboina, Moluccas, Indonesia.
Type locality of Palinurus dasypus: "Habite les mers de I'Inde". Type material in MP, nolonger extant (not located in 1989).
Type locality of Palinurus burgeri: Japan, probably Nagasaki area. Holotype male in RMNH, no. D 21129.
Type locality of Panulirus burgeri megasculpta: "Gischin ( = Kischin) an der Südküste Arabiens" ( = Qishn, South Yemen), 5 male, 2 female syntypes in NMW.
Type locality of Panulirus homarus rubellus: South Africa (Natal and Zululand), S. Mozambique and S.E. Madagascar. Syntypes in SAM, in RMNH, no. D 29843 (in alcohol, condition good), and in BM, no.1928.12.1.326 and 1925.8.18.86-87 (in alcohol, condition fair).

Geographical Distribution:
Indo-West Pacific region: East Africa to Japan, Indonesia, Australia, New Caledonia and probably theMarquesas Archipelago (see Map). The nominotypical form (Panulirus h. homarus) is found throughout the range of the species; P. homarus megasculpta is only known from the northern Arabian Sea (Socotra, south coast of Arabia, perhaps west coast of India); P. h. rubellus inhabits S.E. Africa (Mozambique to Natal) and S.E. Madagascar.

Habitat and Biology:
Inhabits shallow waters between 1 and 90 m depth, mostly between 1 and 5 m; among rocks, often in the surf zone, sometimes in somewhat turbid water. The species is gregarious and nocturnal.

Size:
Maximum total body length 31 cm, carapace length 12 cm. Average total body length 20 to25 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
In South Africa, until 1965 the exploitation of this specieswas "restricted to the efforts of Bantu children in the intertidal zone, and of divers in somewhat deeper waters" Heydorn, 1969: 1). In 1969, a company was formed for the exploitation of the species on a commercial basis. Although off the S.E. African coast (Natal) P. homarus is the most frequent of the Panulirus species, on the East African coast (Zanzibar, Kenya) it belongs to the less common lobsters. In S.E. Africa it is caught with baited lines, baited nets and traps. Off Somalia, the annual catch is about 120 tons. It is the most important contributing species to the lobster fishery off the Indian S.W. and S. coast (Kerala and Tamil Nadu), it is caught there with anchor hooks, traps and gill nets, and supports a lucrative freezing industry (Jones, 1967: 1339). Gruvel (1911: 33, 34) remarked that the species (evidently ssp. rubellus) "se prête à une exploitation industrielle intéressante" in S.E. Madagascar. In the Philippines the species "is abundantly caught by gill nets particularly after heavy rains" (Motoh, 1980: 50, 51). In Taiwan the species is common in the markets from spring to autumn (Chang, 1964: 6, fig. 4; 1965: 36, 37). Also in Thailand the species is offered for sale in markets especially in the southern area. However, the fishery is mostly local, and the animals are marketed fresh or cooked, in some areas there is a minor export of frozen tails. In most places the species is caught by hand, with traps, gill nets, cast nets, baited lines etc. In Thailand, mounted specimens often in fancy glass cases, are sold totourists (e.g. in Rayong).

Remarks:
A possible synonym of Panulirus homarus is Palinurus spinosus H. Milne Edwards, 1837. That species was described as having four teeth on the antennular plate, a transverse groove on each abdominal somite as P. guttatus, three or four denticles on the posterior margin of the abdominal pleura, the abdomen with numerous small specks and no distinct lines or spots on the legs. The morphological characters would fit P. homarus, P. interruptus and P. regius, but the colour characters are most like those of P. homarus. For the time being P. spinosus is therefore regarded here as a probable synonym of the present species. The type material in MP is no longer extant (in 1989).

Scalloped spiny lobster (Panulirus homarus)