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(Linnaeus, 1758)

Diagnosis:
Palm of first chelipeds naked, without hair cover. Left and right first chelipeds strongly different in shape. Rostrum without ventral teeth. Large species, attaining lengths of 40 to 65 cm.

Type:
Type locality of Cancer gammarus, Astacus marinus, Astacus europaeus and Homarus vulgaris: Marstrand, west coast of Sweden, about 57°53'N 11°32'E. Lectotype selected by Holthuis (1974: 820); lectotype and paralectotypes now lost.

Geographical Distribution:
Eastern Atlantic from north-western Norway (Lofoten Islands) south to the Azores and the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Also along the northwest coast of the Black Sea and in the Mediterranean (but lacking in the extreme eastern part, east of Crete). Not present in the Baltic Sea.

Habitat and Biology:
Continental shelf between 0 and 150 m depth; usually not deeper than 50 m. Found on hard substrates: rock or hard mud. The animals are nocturnal and territorial, living in holes or crevices. Females with eggs are found almost throughout the year. The eggs are laid around July and carried for 10 or 11 months.

Size:
Maximum total body length about 60 cm (weight 5 or 6 kg), large size specimens usually 23 to 50 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
The European lobster is a highly esteemed food source and is fished throughout its range, fetching very high prices. It is mostly taken with lobster pots, although it occasionally turns up in trammel nets and dredges. Bait (usually pieces of octopus or cuttle fish) tied to lines can tempt them out of their burrows, after which they are caught by hand or with nets. In some areas captured specimens are kept alive in enclosures. The species is sold fresh, frozen or either canned or in powdered form. According to FAO statistics the annual catch of the species was 2 124 tons in 1987 and 2 052 tons in 1988 from the northeastern Atlantic. Experiments in aquaculture of the species are underway in France and Spain.

European lobster (Homarus gammarus)