Author(s): John Booth
The packhorse lobster (Sagmariasus verreauxi), found off the coasts of northern New Zealand and mid-eastern Australia, is the largest and among the most primitive of all the spiny lobsters (often referred to as ‘crayfish’). Its remarkable life history includes migration across vast distances, both within the water column and along the sea floor. As an adult, its gargantuan size – it can reach lengths of 60 centimetres – and tough, spiny shell enable it to fend off all but the largest predators, but as a juvenile it is tiny, leaf-like, and helpless; and its reproductive strategy leaves it vulnerable to overfishing. However, overall it is a remarkably hardy beast, ideal for live transport and aquaculture, and much of what we know about it is applicable to other spiny lobsters as well. Spiny Lobsters: Through the Eyes of the Giant Packhorse covers the entire life cycle of the packhorse and its relatives, from egg to plate, including the taxonomy, ecology, distribution, anatomy, physiology, and behaviour of these fascinating creatures. It also discusses the fishing techniques used to catch spiny lobsters, and their impact on lobster populations, as well as the ways in which lobsters are processed and marketed. Although written primarily with the non-expert in mind, this book brings important, previously unpublished syntheses that take in all the world’s spiny lobsters – informing the specialist reader as well.