Live Caribbean Spiny Lobster
Panulirus argus Have long, cylindrical bodies covered with spines. Two large spines form forward-pointing "horns" above the eyestalks.
They are generally olive greenish or brown, but can be tan to mahogany. There is a scattering of yellowish to cream-colored spots on the carapace and larger (usually four to six) yellow to cream-colored spots on the abdomen.
They have no claws(pincers). The first pair of antennae are slender, black or dark brown and biramous.
The second pair of antennae are longer than the body, and covered with forward pointing spines.
The bases of the second antennae are thick, can have a bluish tinge, and are likewise covered with rows of spines.
The legs are usually striped longitudinally with blue and yellow and terminate in a single spine-like point. The somites of the abdomen are smooth and have a shallow
furrow across the middle.
Each has pairs of swimmerets on the underside that are yellow and black. The lobes of the tail are colored similarly to the swimmerets
Panulirus argus is a popular seafood item for human consumption. It is the most important food export of the Bahamas, and rivals the shrimp industry in the Florida Keys in commercial value. They are eagerly sought by both commercial lobstermen and sport divers in South Florida, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.
In Florida, there is a season where the spiny lobster may be taken, usually from the beginning of August to the end of March, to protect the species during its main breeding season. A special "mini season" a few days before the start of the regular lobster season gives recreational divers a "head start" in catching them. Divers catch them by gloved hand, often "tickling" them out of their dens with a dowel or small stick. In the Bahamas and Caribbean, they are often also speared or gigged (Florida game regulations prohibit taking them by these methods). In Bermuda, licensed individuals can only take lobsters by free-diving and using an approved noose within designated areas; all other methods and use of air tanks are prohibited. Commercial fisherman typically use lobster traps similar to those used by lobster fishermen in New England.
The traps are usually baited with dead fish or chicken necks.
Lobsters can be cooked in many ways, a popular method in the Caribbean is to grill the lobster after splitting and seasoning.