The life of a spiny lobster is paved with many dangers. In egg form, they remain attached for several months to the underside of their mother along with their brothers and sisters (between 15,000 and 140,000, depending on the species and size). Then, when the water is at the right temperature, all the eggs hatch within a few days and the larvae spread out into the sea, mixed with the plankton. Few survive because most are eaten by other marine animals.
It takes five months for them to turn into larvae, with antenna, then 5–6 years to reach adulthood. They change carapace several times as they grow. They are extremely fragile during the changeover.
They reach sexual maturity when they have grown to around 20 cm long if they live in the Mediterranean, and 35 cm if they live in the Atlantic. At this time, a female lobster can be fertilized by a male lobster, which spreads his spermatophore on her.
If they are not captured, they spend several years living in the rocks, hiding under algae during the day and coming out at night to feed.
Each fall, they migrate with a herd of other lobsters, marching in single file across the ocean floor, each in contact with the one in front and behind. At the slightest sign of a predator, they all raise their antennas. The reason for this migration is not yet known, but it is assumed that it is related to reproduction and that they are being guided by the Earth's magnetic field.
Every species of spiny lobster is overfished almost everywhere, and is therefore endangered, especially in countries that have not established fishing quotas and reserves.
All spiny lobsters, wherever they come from, must be alive. The tail should twitch when it is picked up. The very fragile antennae may be broken, but the legs must be intact.
Not all spiny lobsters produce the same quality of meat. The red lobster and pink spiny lobster have the best-tasting meat.
Female lobsters have a broader abdomen, and their meat is leaner and not as good when they are carrying eggs.
The minimum length authorized is 23 cm.
Live lobsters are usually sorted into sizes ranging from 400 g (for 1 person) to 3 kg.
Spiny lobster is also sold frozen, raw and whole, cooked whole and frozen in an ice bag, whole or half, cooked and frozen without an ice bag, tail frozen and raw or peeled or cooked (whole or medallions).
Spiny lobster must always be cooked alive, in a broth, for 5–10 minutes (depending on its weight).
It is eaten hot, in a stew, cooked à l'Américaine, or grilled, etc. in the same way as lobster. When eaten cold, it is traditional to serve it with cocktail sauce or mayonnaise.
Served à la Parisienne, à la Russe, or Bellevue style, it is always the star of the buffet cart.
An imported live spiny lobster must be used within a few hours following its delivery.
A recently caught spiny lobster can be kept in its delivery box in a cold room for 24–48 hours.
They should only be kept in an aquarium for a few days at most, as they lose weight in this environment.
Lobster meat is very lean and high in protein.
It contains a reasonable amount of minerals and almost no vitamins, except B12.
There are many species of spiny lobster. The best known are:
. Red lobster or common spiny lobster or European spiny lobster
Its carapace is orange. It can grow up to 50 cm long and weigh up to 4 kg. Its antennae are striped brown and yellow.
It lives near the coast of the north-east Atlantic from Ireland to Africa and in the Mediterranean. In France, it is also called langouste royale (royal spiny lobster) or langouste bretonne (Breton spiny lobster). It is fished from May through October and is becoming more and more rare.
. Caribbean spiny lobster, known in French as langouste blanche (white spiny lobster).
Despite its French name, the color of its carapace varies from olive green to red through brown. Its abdomen is striped with ocher-colored bands (which is why it is known as the "white" spiny lobster). It lives in the western Atlantic off the coast of Brazil to North Carolina, in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and the Gulf of Mexico. In the Caribbean, it is sometimes called royal spiny lobster. The main producers are Cuba, Brazil, and the Bahamas.
. Pink spiny lobster
It has a pink carapace and lives off the coast of Mauritania and the east Atlantic up to a depth of 500 m. It is also found in the Mediterranean. It is overfished and therefore an endangered species.
. Cape rock lobster
Its carapace is brown. It lives in the south-east Atlantic, off the coast of Africa and Australia.
. Juan Fernandez rock lobster
Its carapace is reddish brown. It lives in the south-east Pacific
. Green lobster or royal spiny lobster
Its carapace is blue-green and it lives in the eastern central Atlantic.
. California spiny lobster
Its carapace is light red. It lives in the eastern central Pacific.
All of these spiny lobsters are imported live to Europe.
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