The Blunt Slipper Lobster (Scyllarides squammosus) is an unusual looking clawless lobster. They are usually only active at night and during the day they are almost never seen, being adept at hiding themselves. Being Crustaceans they undergo frequent molts of their carapace as juveniles and the adults molt once a year.
The body is collectively covered in a hard carapace made up of six segments on the head and eight on the thorax. The head has two pairs of antennae, one large and flattened pair covering the front of the sculptured slipper lobster and the other set are normal.
Blunt Slipper lobster are predominantly a light reddish brown color mixed with yellow in some areas. The first segment of the tail is a light yellow with three characteristic circular brown marks on it. The eyes are ringed with orange dots. Dependent on how long the period is since the shell change , there is often abundant algal and other growth on the shell. The body is flattened and the upper surface is covered with short hairs and tubercles. The legs are a lighter orange-yellow colour and have purple on the joints.
IN THE WILD
They are nocturnal and are rarely if ever seen out during the day. With their flattened shape they are adept at hiding in crevices. They are extremely shy and will retreat into a crevice or hole at the sight of a diver. They can swim backwards quite quickly to escape predators by flapping their tail.
They are found On rocky and coral reefs across the Indo West Pacific area from depth of 5 meters to 120 meters. Being nocturnal they hide during the day and feed at night.
Slipper lobsters are nocturnal feeders and eat a variety of molluscs, shrimp, crabs worms and sea urchins. at night and burrow in sand or hide on reefs during daylight. They use their powerful legs to pull apart mollusks. Their main predators include triggerfish, groupers and octopuses.
Blunt Slipper lobsters have separate sexes and at maturity which is generally around three years begin breeding. Males deposit a sperm packet on the underside of females and females have between 54000 to 240000 eggs which are carried under their tail. The eggs start off bright orange and as they develop so they go a dark muddy brown colour. Once the eggs hatch they become planktonic, free floating in the water table for up to six months. Very few of the larvae survive until adult stage. They obtain sexual maturity at approximately 6.6 to 7 cm in length.
Slipper lobsters are eaten throughout their range and taste exactly the same as normal lobsters except they do not grow that large. They are trapped in fish traps in Tanzania and Zanzibar. This species which grows up to 40 cm is the largest Slipper Lobster on the East African coast.
SCULPTURED SLIPPER LOBSTER CLASSIFICATION
- The Reef Guide fishes, corals, nudibranchs & other invertebrates: East and South Coasts of Southern Africa by Dennis King & Valda Fraser