Coral Rock Lobster, Panulirus longipes bispinosus

Spiny & Slipper Lobsters

Marvel at this ancient group with a fossil history stretching back up to 200 million years. Many of these species are commercially fished in Queensland waters and elsewhere.


Despite their name, the Australian spiny lobsters and slipper lobsters lack the large, powerful claws that are the hallmark of the marine 'clawed' lobsters from the northern hemisphere. The two most common families are the Palinuridae (spiny lobsters) and the Scyllaridae (slipper lobsters). Slipper lobsters such as the Moreton Bay Bug and the Smooth Fan Lobster are both commercially fished, as is the Ornate Spiny Lobster, although the latter is collected mostly by hand. An ancient group, their fossil history stretches back to the Lower Triassic (about 150-200 million years ago).

Examples of this group include:

  • Moreton Bay Bug (Thenus parindicus)
  • Smooth Fan Lobster (Ibacus brucei)
  • Ornate Spiny Lobster (Panulirus ornatus)
  • Coral Rock Lobster (Panulirus longipes bispinosus)

Common questions

The Eastern Rock Lobster, Sagmariasus verreauxi, is the largest lobster in Australian waters. This species reaches a maximum body length of 60 centimetres. It ranges from southern Queensland, south to Tasmania.

The term ‘lobster’ traditionally refers to those groups with large pincers from the northern hemisphere. The terms ‘spiny lobster’ and ‘rock lobster’ refer to those groups that lack the large pincers, and occur in both the northern and southern hemispheres (the obsolete term ‘marine crayfish’ was historically used for these groups as well). Freshwater crayfish have large pincers, and occur in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

Slipper lobsters are members of the family Scyllaridae. These crustaceans possess enlarged antennae that project forward from the head in the shape of wide plates. A common Queensland species, the Moreton Bay Bug, Thenus parindicus, is served in many restaurants.

Fact sheets


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