Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps

Family PALINURIDAE Latreille, 1802

Compiler and date details

May 2012 - Peter Davie, Queensland Museum, Brisbane



This family includes the most commercially important marine lobsters (or crayfish) in Australia. Six of the eight known world genera are found in Australian waters. The Western Rock Lobster (Panulirus cygnus) is principally caught in waters off southern Western Australia, and forms the basis of the largest single species fishery in Australia, with a value in excess of $AUS.200 million annually. The Southern Rock Lobster (Jasus edwardsi) and the Eastern Rock Lobster (Jasus verreauxi) are also significant economically, the latter attaining weights of up to 8 kg, making it the largest rock lobster in the world. Other tropical Spiny Lobsters (Panulirus species) are also very popular, but of less fisheries importance because they tend not to enter traps. Some deeper water species such as the Red Spear Lobster or Champagne Cray (Linuparus trigonus) and the Whip Lobster (Puerulus angulatus) are also found occasionally in the market-place, but are mostly an incidental or off-season fishery at present.

Important works for the identification and biology of Australian species include: George & Kensler (1970); George (1966, 1968, 1983); Phillips et al. (1980); Booth et al. (1990); Holthuis (1991); and Chan (1998). George & Main (1967) wrote an interesting account of the evolution of the Palinuridae.



Moderate to large lobsters. Body tubular or slightly flattened dorsoventrally; setae, if present, few and scattered. Carapace subcylindrical or box-like, laterally rounded or straight; without a well-developed rostrum; ornamented with spines and granules of various sizes, sometimes with scale-like sculpture (Justitia). Eyes well developed, each protected by a strong, spinous frontal projection of the carapace (frontal horns). Antennae thick, very long, whip-like or spear-like; antennal scale absent; antennulae slender and each with two flagella which may be long or short. Bases of antennae often separated by a broad antennular plate, usually bearing some spines. In some genera a fleshy lobe is developed from the base of the antenna, and forms a stridulatory organ in conjunction with the smooth rim of the antennal plate; a low grating or sqeaking sound is produced by rubbing of the antenna. Pereiopods generally simple, non-chelate; first pair the same length, or only slightly longer than subsequent pairs (except in male Justitia longimanus), but often somewhat more robust. Abdomen and tailfan well developed, thickly muscled; posterior half of tailfan soft and flexible; abdominal somites either smooth or each provided with one or more transverse grooves. (After Chan 1998).


General References

Booth, J.D., Street, R.J. & Smith, P.J. 1990. Systematic status of the rock lobsters Jasus edwardsi from New Zealand and Jasus novaehollandiae from Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 24(2): 239-249

Chan, T.-Y. 1998. Lobsters. pp. 973-1043 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 2 687-1396 pp.

George, R.W. 1966. Marine crayfish or spiny lobsters of Australia. Australian Fisheries Newsletter 25(5): 25-28, 9 figs

George, R.W. 1968. Tropical spiny lobsters, Panulirus spp., of Western Australia (and the Indo-west Pacific). Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 51(2): 33-38

George, R.W. 1983. New finds of deepwater "Lobster" on the Northwest shelf. Fins, Fishery News Western Australia 16(1): 16-20 5 figs

George, R.W. & Kensler, C.B. 1970. Recognition of marine spiny lobsters of the Jasus lalandii group (Crustacea: Decapoda: Palinuridae). New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 4(3): 292-311

George, R.W. & Main, A.R. 1967. The evolution of spiny lobsters (Palinuridae): a study of evolution in the marine environment. Evolution 21: 803-820

Holthuis, L.B. 1991. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 13. Marine lobsters of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of species of interest to fisheries known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, 13: i-viii, 1-292

Phillips, B.F., Morgan, G.R. & Austin, C.M. 1980. Synopsis of biological data on the Western Rock Lobster Panulirus cygnus George, 1962. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Fisheries Synopsis 128: 1-64


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
05-Dec-2019 DECAPODA Latreille, 1802 31-Jul-2018 MODIFIED Dr Shane Ahyong
10-May-2012 10-May-2012 MODIFIED
03-Jun-2010 MODIFIED