Lobsters and crayfish

Homarus gammarus and Palinurus elephas

The Crawfish or Crayfish (Palinurus elephas) or spiny red lobster is larger than the European lobster, growing to about 60cm in length. It has a stout, heavily armoured body. The colour is usually orange dorsally with darker spines and white underneath but brown, sandy and purple morphs are occasionally found. It has numerous sharp spines on the carapace, over much of the abdomen and on the larger appendages. It has long antennae but small hook-like claws.

Crawfish are found on open exposed rock faces and on the rocky seabed in the lower inter-tidal zone and to depths of 70m, and are distributed within the north and western Mediterranean shores, being largely absent from the eastern basin.

The only other large crustacean with a similar shape is the common or European lobster (Homarus gammarus). It is unmistakable with its massive claws and deep blue carapace. It is found on rocky substrata, iving in holes and excavated tunnels from the lower shore to depths of 60m. It is a large lobster that can grow up to one metre in length, but 50 cm is more common. It is blue-coloured above with coalescing spots and yellowish below. The first pair of walking legs carries massive (but slightly unequal – one crushes, one cuts) pincers that can be formidable and dangerous. The body lacks the strong spines or ridges of the crawfish and is only slightly granular.