Physical Description

  • Ten-legged crustacean with no prominent front claws.
  • Long antennae twice the length of its body.
  • Sharp, shiny projections along upper shell and sides of tail.
  • Red to orange coloration on shell.
  • Very strong jaws that deliver powerful bite.
  • Males are larger than females.


  • Monterey Bay, California to Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico.
  • Highest abundance off central Baja California.


  • Live in lower rocky intertidal zones.
  • Up to depths of 230 feet.
  • Often found with large kelp and surf grass.
  • Often concealed during the day, many lobsters in a single rocky crevice; they feed right after sunset.


  • Males reach sexual maturity at 3-6 years old, and females at 5-9 years old.
  • Mating in deep water from December-March, usually during upwelling conditions.
  • Males deposit sperm onto female, who then lays brood of eggs.
  • Females produce several broods of larvae, 50,000-800,000 each, in lifetime.
  • Female holds onto eggs beneath their abdomens, protected by pleopods (hard flap right before tail).


  • Omnivorous scavengers.
  • Scavenge dead animals, detritus, and algae.
  • They eat mussels, urchins, coralline algae, fish, and echinoderms.


  • Octopuses, California sheephead, cabezon, kelp bass, California moray eels, horn sharks, leopard sharks, giant sea bass, and multiple types of rockfish.
  • Humans also fish for them.

Interesting Facts

  • To scare off competitors and predators, the Pacific spiny lobster will move their antennae in a large sweeping motion and make an alarming grating noise by rubbing their antennae against a file-like eyespot.
  • To escape from predators, spiny lobsters swim backwards with a flip of the tail. If caught by a predator, they will also self-autotomize, or purposely lose a limb or antennae, to escape! 
  • They can crawl in every direction.
  • Spiny lobsters can regenerate a lost leg or antennae during each molt.

Sources: California Sea Grant;

Photo: Nate Baker