Slipper Lobster

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Misplaced shoe or crazy crustacean? Misplaced shoe or crazy crustacean? Meet the “slipper lobster,” – a sea bottom dweller that’s found in warm waters worldwide.

It’s neither a slipper nor a true lobster, but it is a TANK! They are related to Spiny Lobsters, which aren’t true lobsters either. Slipper lobsters, like the spiny lobsters and do not have large claws. But the resemblance ends there. The body is flattened and shovel-like extensions at the head are actually modified antennae. Eyes are recessed in sockets within the head.

Slipper Lobsters are members of the Scyllaridae family, found in warm oceans across the world from the surface all the way down to depths of about 500 metres (1,600 ft).

During the day, slipper lobsters live in caves and crevices in the reef. Their flattened bodies allow them to cling closely to the rock walls or roofs of caves, and their drab coloration blends with the surroundings so that they are generally difficult to see.   At night, slipper lobsters emerge from shelter to forage over the reef. They act as carnivores, some using their jaws and limbs to crack open living snails and oysters, others eating sea anemones. They also take advantage of carrion and will scavenge on dead animal matter.

slipper lobster 2

Scientific names: Scyllarides squammosus, Scyllarides haani, Parribacus antarcticus,Arctides regalis,  Arctides timidus

Distribution: Indo-Pacific, including Hawai

Size: varies with species, from less than 7 to over 19 inches (18-50 cm)

Diet: molluscs, other reef invertebrates, animal carrion

With those famous nippy pincers replaced by yet another pair of legs, you might think the Slipper Lobster is in a bit of trouble. What to do about all those predators if they can’t nip their toes? Slippers range between a few centimetres (an inch or two) to 50 cm (20 inches) long, so they sound like a tasty snack or a wholesome meal to near enough anything partial to seafood.

Slipper Lobsters have a whole host of coping mechanisms, often aided by their body being flattened like a fancy, modern tank. Some may be nocturnal, hiding in caves and niches while predators are most active…

They may use camouflage to hide out in plain view or bury themselves in sand. When things get really bad they can simply cling to rocks with their powerful legs, a bit like some beetles. And then there’s the fact that they’re built like a brick chitin-house!

Slipper Lobsters have a remarkably thick carapace that only the most powerful of jaws can crunch through.

Like any crustacean, they also have 2 pairs of antennae. One pair are extremely long, flexible and sensitive, held up to sense their surroundings. The other pair is less obvious, or at least they were for me..

Image: Philippe Guillaume via Flickr 
Image: Philippe Guillaume via Flickr 

It turns out those two massive, flattened plates sticking out of their face are actually antennae! I had no idea! They help the Slipper Lobster dig into sand and perhaps also sniff out buried worms and molluscs that make up their diet. Those same legs that let them cling to the ground with such tenacity are also used to pry open bivalve shells.

 

Source www.realmonstrosities, WaikikiAquaium.org

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October 25, 2018 |

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