Spiny lobsters

Quintet of spiny lobsters have arrived!

A rare type of lobster which is normally found in the Mediterranean has gone on display at Bristol Aquarium.

The spiny lobsters were caught off the southern tip of Ireland and donated to the Harbourside attraction by Dingle Oceanworld.

They have been put on display in a specially-themed tank, complete with rocky crevices which mimic their natural environment in the wild.

Bristol Aquarium’s Liv Orchart said: “It’s quite unusual to be able to put these amazing-looking crustaceans on display and they are proving to be a popular new attraction for visitors.

“This group are around 30cms long but they can grow up to half-a-metre in length, and that’s excluding their massive antennae which they use to sense what is around them,” she added.

Although more commonly found in the warm waters of the Mediterranean the spiny lobster is also attracted to the Gulf Stream currents off the south western tip of England and Ireland.

Unlike its cousin the lobster, the spiny lobster or crawfish does not have large claws. It is covered in a very spiny shell which is capable of inflicting nasty wounds if not handled carefully.

One of the more unusual characteristics of the crawfish is they can make a creaking sound if alarmed by rubbing their antennae against a file-like section on their body. It is the same way in which a violin string is bowed and is a unique type of sound production in the animal kingdom.

They are also famous for their mass autumnal migration in single file across the sea bed where they remain in contact with the crawfish in front using their antennae.

Due to a decline in numbers and its relatively slow reproduction rate in the wild, the spiny lobster is now defined as a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Research from the Mediterranean suggests that spiny lobster numbers recover well in Marine Protected Areas.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews/ picture opportunities please contact Sarah Moore or Olivia Orchart on 0117 929 8929.