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Species Of Lobsters

There are several species of typical lobsters, and a larger number of spiny lobsters. The economically important species native to North American waters are briefly described below.

The northern or East Coast lobster (Homarus americanus) is an abundant and widespread species of the Atlantic coast of North America, ranging as far north as Labrador to as far south as Virginia. This species occurs most abundantly on rocky bottoms, and it ranges over the entire continental shelf, even in some of the deeper waters of the continental slope. Individual animals can reach quite large, formidable sizes. Some humongous animals caught in relatively deep places on the continental slope have exceeded 3 ft (1 m) in length and 44 lb (20 kg) in weight. These venerable individuals are probably more than 100 years old.

The European lobster (Homarus vulgaris) is a closely related species, occurring in temperate waters of western Europe. This species is considerably smaller than the American lobster. The Norwegian lobster or scampi (Nephrops norvegicus) is an even smaller lobster that ranges from the Norwegian coast to the Adriatic coast in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

There are two species of spiny lobsters in North America. The West Coast spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) occurs on the Pacific coast, and the Caribbean spiny lobster (P. argus) occurs in the Caribbean Sea, off the Florida Coast, and in the Gulf of Mexico. These warm-water species do not have the huge, crushing, and tearing claws of the Homarus typical lobsters, but they have a needle-sharp, spiny carapace, and very long antennae.

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