Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture
Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture

Do you know the differences between rock lobster species?

Published: 02/06/2022

You may be surprised to know that our Tasmania-based Research Hub works with tropical lobster species and not temperate (colder water/Southern) species. Here, we sit down with Senior Technical Officers, Molly Stokes and Larnie Linton to learn some fascinating facts about three different lobster species and why tropicals are best suited for onshore aquaculture.

Tasmania has two native species of lobster, the Eastern rock lobster (Sagmariasus verreauxi) and well loved Southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii). Both of which the Research Hub chief investigators have worked on in the past. Although Tasmanians, and people across the globe, love catching and eating local species, it turns out they aren't well suited for onshore aquaculture.

"The Tasmanian species are adapted to colder water, around 20ᵒC for the Southerns and 26ᵒC for the Easterns, which along with their long larval life history, means they are slow growing. The longer it takes to grow a lobster, the more money it costs to grow it to plate size", says Molly. "The tropical rock lobster (Panulirus ornatus) prefers its home to be around 28ᵒC or higher and is faster growing."

Larnie Linton has been working in aquaculture of tropical rock lobsters for over 20 years and has made some remarkable observations on the broodstock (reproductive adults). "One of my favourite discoveries has been that the tropical lobsters have unique markings on and between the horns above their eyes. It is just like a finger print. We can now use a 'cheat sheet' to identify individuals, which makes it easier for me to tag them correctly and shorten their handling time out of water."

Larnie holding a large female tropical rock lobster

Fun Fast Facts!

  • Larvae remain in the water collumn for 12 to 24 months before metamorphosing into a puerulus and settling on the bottom
  • Puerulus stage is about 21 days for all three species in the wild but this can be shortened in an aquaculture system

Eastern Rock Lobsters

  • Are the largest of the spiny lobsters
  • Have been observed to be less aggressive in feeding behaviour than Southerns
  • Are becoming more common in Tasmania as their range expands due to ocean warming

Southern Rock Lobsters

  • Are mostly bright red
  • Are found only on the South-East coast of Australia and in New Zealand
  • Produce hundreds of thousands of eggs and only reproduce once a year in summer

Tropical Rock Lobsters

  • Wide distribution all along the east coast of NSW and extends down to TAS and even New Zealand
  • Can reproduce up to five times throughout the summer season
  • Has a larval stage of 6-12 months in the wild but only about 3-4 months in the hatchery

Sustainable Onshore Lobster AquacultureSustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture
The ARC Research Hub for Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture is funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Program. 

For more information about the Research Hub please contact us at Lobster.Aquaculture@utas.edu.au or phone +61 3 6226 8268.
Australian Research CouncilInstitute of Marine and Antarctic StudiesUniversity of TasmaniaOrnatasUniversity of Sunshine CoastPFG GroupUniversity of New Zealand
Copyright 2022 ARC Research Hub for Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture.
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