Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cape Lobster

Homarinus capensis
The Cape Lobster is a species of Crustacean that lives off the coast of South Africa. The main things to know about these guys is that they are incredibly elusive. From 1792 to 1992 only fourteen specimens were collected.

In 1992 the discovery of one of these rare Lobsters prompted a surge in discovery, and another 20 or so have been identified since... though most have been as parts regurgitated by fish.

Why are Cape Lobsters so hard to find? South Africa's waters have been more explored, studied, and cataloged than any other country's on the continent, why is the story here? Well, the Cape Lobsters are very small, especially when compared to the lobsters we normally think of. Their entire length is only around 4in, and their main carapace tops out around 2. This keeps them out of most Lobster traps.

Another cause for their elusiveness is that very little is known about their habitat and biology, and much of the existing information has been proven incorrect (they don't live in fresh water, for example). Cape Lobsters most likely live in rocky substrate areas, which are difficult to dredge or trawl in, so the Lobsters don't show up as a bycatch.

Cape Lobsters were once placed in the same genus as their larger American and European cousins. In 1995 it was determined that their relationship is more distant than previously thought, and they are now members of a monotypic genus.

IUCN Status : Data Deficient
Location : South Africa
Size : Length up to 4in (10cm)
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Subphylum : Crustacea -- Class
: Malacostraca
Order : Decapoda -- Family : Nephropidae -- Genus : Homarinus -- Species : H. capensis

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